The UK government has condemned the exploitation of prisoners of war after two more British men held by Russian proxies in eastern Ukraine and charged with mercenary activities could face the death penalty.
A spokesman for the British Foreign Office said Andrew Hill of Plymouth and Dylan Healy of Huntingdon were charged with forcible seizure of power and undergoing terrorist training and were reported to have been charged with forcible seizure of power and undergoing terrorist training, according to a state news agency in Russian-controlled Donetsk.
The statement said that we condemn the exploitation of prisoners of war and civilians for political purposes and have raised this with Russia. We are in constant contact with the government of Ukraine regarding their cases and are fully supportive of Ukraine in its efforts to get them released. Hill, who was identified as a father of four from Plymouth, has been paraded on Russian television in several clips, including one that aired last month with the headline: Exclusive before execution. He appeared to have been informed in the clip that he could face criminal charges, saying that he was detained here as a suspected mercenary hill, who had previously served in the Lancaster regiment of the British army, was first shown on Russian television after his capture in late April. The 35-year-old appeared to be severely injured in the video, with his head bandaged and his left arm in a cast and supported by a sling.
I want to go home, to my homeland, to my family, to my children, he said in a clip that appeared to have been filmed under duress. Dylan Healy, the other man, is reported to have been working as a humanitarian aid volunteer in Ukraine.
Two more Britons and a Moroccan man were sentenced to death on identical charges by the authorities in Russian-controlled Donetsk.
A court in Russian-controlled east Ukraine has convicted 28-year-old Aiden Aslin, from Newark, 48-year-old Shaun Pinner, from Watford, and Saaudun Brahim on charges of terrorism. Observers said the process was intended to mimic the war crimes trials of Russian soldiers taking place in Kyiv.
Both Britons have said they were serving in the Ukrainian marines, making them active-duty soldiers who should be protected by the Geneva conventions on prisoners of war. The court has convicted the men of being a mercenary, but at least two of the men are appealing the verdict, because Russian state media has portrayed them as mercenaries.