Brit fighters Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin told they could face death penalty

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Two British "mercenary" soldiers captured by Russia could face the death penalty.

Shaun Pinner, 48, and Aiden Aslin, 28, are both being tried in a court in the so-called Donetsk People's Republic.

Prosecutor Andrei Spivak said both "are charged with a number of crimes against civilians of the Donetsk People’s Republic" and the "maximum punishment for these crimes is the death penalty".

While Aslin was heard saying he understood the accusations against him, he also said that he did not agree that he had murdered civilians while fighting for the Ukrainians in Mariupol.

It is highly unlikely that the charges – including the death penalty – could have been brought without Russian leadership approval.

The prosecutor said: "In the period from approximately December 2018 to April 2022 Shaun Pinner, Aiden John Mark Aslin, and [another foreign fighter] acting deliberately by a group of persons by prior agreement as part of the armed forces of Ukraine, being on the territory of Donetsk People’s Republic [DPR] in a time of war, being armed with firearms, took part in the preparation and military actions against the Armed Forces of the Donetsk People's Republic for the purpose of forcibly seizing and forcibly retaining power on the territory of DPR.”

They are also accused of violating its constitution, by committing “terrorist acts, diversions, explosions, shelling from artillery, mortar, small arms of settlements, peaceful citizens, military of the Armed Forces of DPR, committing murders of the citizens of DPR, threatening of the civilians, who carried out their will during the referendum on May 11, 2014, which resulted in the forming of the state Donetsk People Republic”.

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Aslin replied: “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.

“I agree with the fact that I fought on the territory of the DPR, and fought against the soldiers of the DPR in peaceful settlements.”

He also admitted using arms and weapons systems alongside other foreigners, including Pinner who acknowledged that he understood the charges.

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Pinner was captured earlier this month, and was used in a brief propaganda video shown on Russian media.

In the video, he said: ““Hi, I’m Shaun Pinner. I am a citizen of the UK. I was captured in Mariupol. I am part of the 36 Brigade First Battalion Ukrainian Marines.

“I was fighting in Mariupol for five to six weeks and now I’m in Donetsk People’s Republic.”

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Pinner had been living in the Donbas region with his wife for the last four years.

Aslin is a dual British-Ukraine citizen who has been a member of Ukraine's Marines for a number of years.

Under international law, Donetsk is still part of Ukraine, although Russia claims that a fake referendum held a few years ago showed that the locals still living in the area – which are not many – want to live under Russian rule.

  • Russia Ukraine war
  • Ukraine
  • Russia
  • Vladimir Putin

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