British fighter in Ukraine faces death penalty after capture by Russian forces

7 June 2022, 09:14 | Updated: 7 June 2022, 14:25

A destroyed truck can be seen on fire at the bridge connecting Severodoonetsk and Lysychansk, in Ukraine's Luhansk region
A destroyed truck can be seen on fire at the bridge connecting Severodoonetsk and Lysychansk, in Ukraine's Luhansk region. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

A British man captured fighting for Ukraine is facing the death penalty.

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Aiden Aslin was detained in the ruined city of Mariupol as Russian forces levelled the city.

His unit was surrounded and ran out of ammunition as they took part in the last stand, tying up the invaders in a protracted siege in the Black Sea city.

Russia has tried to claim he is a foreign mercenary, and use that to stop him from receiving protection under the Geneva convention. Instead, he was actually part of the Ukrainian army and holds joint Ukrainian citizenship.

Mr Aslin has now been charged with four offences by prosecutors in the Donetsk People’s Republic [DPR], the name used by pro-Russian rulers of the breakaway region in the east of Ukraine, which Moscow is seeking to completely conquer.

Among those charges is being a mercenary.

A statement from the DPR prosecutor-general said: "Taking into account wartime, on the basis of the provisions of the current main law, according to the results of the trial, the mercenary may be assigned an exceptional measure of punishment — the death penalty."

Mr Aslin, 28, is a former care worker from Newark-on-Trent.

Two other Brits are being held by the DPR, Shaun Pinner, 48, and Andrew Hill, 35, and the territory has issued charges against them as well.

Read more: Exclusive: 'Free my British friend who fought for Ukraine's freedom', Truss told

Dominic Raab, the deputy Prime Minister, told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on Tuesday: "In relation to that case, I don't know all the details, but of course we would expect the laws of armed conflict to be respected, and we will make sure that we will make all the representations.

"I know the Foreign Office will be looking at making sure all those representations are made."

Images of Mr Aslin battered and bruised have appeared across propaganda, with Mr Pinner being filmed asking Boris Johnson to swap them for a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician.

Russia's bloody invasion of Ukraine appears focused on capturing the Donetsk region
Russia's bloody invasion of Ukraine appears focused on capturing the Donetsk region. Picture: Alamy
Russia is looking to capture the Donetsk region for the DPR
Russia is looking to capture the Donetsk region for the DPR. Picture: Alamy

It is assumed their statements are being made under duress.

A friend of Mr Pinner pleaded with foreign secretary Liz Truss to intervene.

Read more: First photo of battered Brit captured by Russians in Mariupol's last stand emerges

"You need to take a team of your diplomats and speak about this and get this sorted so they, not just Shaun but the other guy too, can be released as soon as possible. Because... it's just going to be a war of propaganda... we need to act now, rather than waiting," the unnamed friend said.

"We don't want Shaun and the other guy as well to become political pawns in the battle and that is what is going to happen... Russia are going to use these two guys to their advantage so we need to get Liz Truss and her diplomatic team to speak to the Ukrainian government and get around that table... and negotiate the situation."

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