Three Britons facing execution in eastern Ukraine

Three Britons facing execution in eastern Ukraine

Three men could be executed after a Russian-backed separatist court in eastern Ukraine charged five foreign men who were captured while fighting for Ukrainian forces.

Briton John Harding, Croatian Vjekoslav Prebeg and Swedish citizen Mathias Gustafsson, who was captured in and around the port city of Mariupol, face a possible death sentence under the laws of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Russia's state-owned news agency TASS reported.

Two more Britons, Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill, were charged with being indicted on Monday, but do not face execution.

All five of the accused men pleaded not guilty to the charges, TASS reported.

The trial will resume in early October, TASS said.

Croatia dismisses the indictment and does not consider it to be legal because it is opposed to international law and international conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war, Croatia's Foreign Ministry said in response to the charges against Vjekoslav Prebeg.

The British Foreign Office hasn't commented on the situation.

In June, the Donetsk authorities sentenced two Britons and one Moroccan citizen to charges of fighting with the Ukrainian military against Russia.

They were charged with attempting to seize power and be mercenaries.

Foreign governments have declined to negotiate with the Donetsk People's Republic, one of two Russian-backed entities that have controlled parts of eastern Ukraine's Donbas region since 2014, on the grounds that it remains an internationally recognised part of Ukraine.