Humanitarian worker Chris Parry died unlawfully in possible ‘war crime’ by Wagner Group, inquest hears

16 January 2024, 16:28

Chris Parry's death was an unlawful killing, an inquest has heard.
Chris Parry's death was an unlawful killing, an inquest has heard. Picture: Supplied

By Jenny Medlicott

British aid worker Chris Parry may have been killed by Wagner Group mercenaries in a possible ‘war crime’, an inquest has heard.

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Mr Parry, 28, went missing alongside fellow British national Andrew Bagshaw, 47, near Soledar on the eastern frontline in Ukraine in January 2023.

The pair had been trying to evacuate civilians amid heavy fighting.

The UK Foreign Office said the pair had been killed by an artillery shell at the time of their death. However, an inquest in Oxford on Tuesday concluded Mr Parry died of gunshot wounds to the head and torso.

The inquest did not hold the Wagner Group specifically responsible for Mr Parry’s death but did suggest their possible involvement.

Coroner Darren Salter concluded that the 28-year-old’s death was an unlawful killing.

"It seems to me therefore to conclude given the circumstances, given the cause of death, that he was unlawfully killed whilst engaged in humanitarian work," he said.

He highlighted that while an inquest does not typically comment on such circumstances, “I can say is the circumstances point to a war crime”.

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Mr Parry may have been killed in a 'war crime', the inquest heard.
Mr Parry may have been killed in a 'war crime', the inquest heard. Picture: Supplied

He added that he was working with other UK agencies that focus on war crimes in connection with the case of Mr Parry and Mr Bagshaw.

Mr Parry’s parents, Rob and Christine, told Sky News that they believe the Wagner Group is responsible for their son’s death.

The 28-year-old was involved in the evacuation of more than 400 old, young and vulnerable people during his time as an aid worker, his family said.

It was feared at the time of Mr Parry and Mr Bagshaw’s disappearance that they had gone missing in territory controlled by Russian armed forces, one of Mr Bagshaw’s contacts said in a witness statement.

Evidence presented at the inquest also revealed that Mr Bagshaw’s profile picture on his phone had been changed to a black spade symbol - often associated with Priogzhin’s mercenaries.

The inquest heard this was indicative that his phone had been “in the hands of someone who was indicating that they were part of the Wagner Group”.

Chris Parry died alongside Andrew Bagshaw.
Chris Parry died alongside Andrew Bagshaw. Picture: Supplied

In a statement read out by the coroner on behalf of Mrs Parry, she said: “He was particularly proud of all the children he saved.

"We were devastated. We will never get over this, we will always remember him."

After the inquest, Mr Parry’s parents added: “We're so incredibly proud of Chris.

“When we've been in Ukraine people have spoken and remembered everything that he's done.”

The pair also confirmed they want the UK government to pursue their son’s death as a war crime, as they said “we will do our utmost to get that registered”.

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