British mercenaries captured by Pro-Russian separatist forces of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) could be sentenced to death for conducting "combat operation," according to reports.
According to Russia's General Prosecutor's Office, the British fighters identified as Shaun Pinner, 48, and Andrew Hill, 35, along with Moroccan Ibrahim Saadoun, were involved in crimes under three articles of the DPR Criminal Code: the "commission of crimes by a group of persons," the "forcible seizure of power or forcible retention of power," and "mercenarism."
The announcement of the criminal case against the fighters was made by Viktor Gavrilov, the judiciary spokesman, on Friday. While talking to the reporters, he mentioned that for further consideration the case details have already been submitted to one of the republic's courts, Russia Today reported.
"Wartime taken into account, could also result in the application of capital punishment â the death penalty â to the accused," he added later.
As per the DPR Criminal Code, the forcible seizure of power is punishable by imprisonment for 12 to 20 years, in case of mercenarism, which is internationally considered a crime, it is three to seven years. In situations of war, the punishment could also lead to the death penalty.
As per the Mirror UK, another British mercenary whose name had not been mentioned in the list of those to be put on trial is Aiden Aslin, 28. Pinner and Aslin had reached out to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, requesting to facilitate an exchange for one of the Ukrainian opposition leaders, Victor Medvedchuk, a loyal ally to Putin for nearly two decades, currently detained by Ukrainian forces.
The British government however, has stepped back referring to Pinner and Aslin as "prisoners of war," and stating that they should be "treated accordingly."
In April, Pinner acknowledged the charges against him. Similarly, Hill also confessed to being "unwittingly" involved in war crimes in a video broadcast earlier this month. "I understand everything has been done wrong and I hope for leniency from the Donetsk People's Republic," he said.
In case of Aslin, while he appeared to understand and accept the allegations against him, he continues to deny killing any civilians. "I understand fully what I am accused of and I agree with it fully up to the part about murdering civilians - I don't agree with [this]," he said.