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Two captured British mercenaries who went to fight Russia in Ukraine have been told that they will face the death penalty.
Shaun Pinney, 48, and Andrew Hill, 35, were both taken prisoner by Russian forces during the siege in Mariupol and are set to be put on trial in the breakaway state of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).
If convicted, the maximum penalty is execution- believed to be by gunshot - for allegedly conducting 'combat operations' against the pro-Putin region, local law enforcement officials announced.
It is believed that the Russians are looking to make a show of the mock-trial in order to maximise concessions from the British government.
Another British fighter captured by Russians, Aiden Aslin, 28, was noticeably absent from the proceedings for reasons that are yet to be explained.
The Prosecutor-General of the DPR, Viktor Gavrilov, said in a video that: “After detailed testimonies of British citizens Shaun Pinner and Andrew Hill obtained by officers of the Prosecutor-General's Office of the DPR.... their involvement in the commission of unlawful acts has been established.
“A criminal case against mercenaries involved in the preparation and conduct of combat operations against the DPR is completed.
“The case materials have been submitted to a court for trial on the merits of the case - as a result of which capital punishment (death penalty) can be imposed on the accused in wartime conditions.”
Shaun Pinner - a Royal Anglican veteran - has appeared on Russian TV several times since his capture, looking tired and bruised whilst appearing to recite lines fed to him by his captors as Russian forces seek to use his plight to further their propaganda war.
Likewise, Andrew Hill, a father-of-four from Plymouth, also appeared in Pro-Putin media this month to broadcast a confession, admitting to being ‘unwittingly’ involved in ‘war crimes’ and pleading for leniency.
“They shoot [civilians], kill them and injure them indiscriminately,” Hill can be seen saying in the video.
“They stole valuable things from these people without any shame at all.
“Mercenaries also tortured Russian soldiers and Russian fight activists. They cut off their fingers and they torture them.
“Prisoners were severely beaten and they were deprived of food and drink. I've never seen such cruelty on this scale before.”
Hill’s words almost perfectly mirror the Russian propaganda version of the war, even though until last week he was voluntarily fighting alongside Ukrainian forces.
Elsewhere in the video he accuses Ukrainians of proudly displaying Nazi symbols and tattoos and regrets his involvement in the war.
“Unfortunately I found myself among these terrible people and unwittingly became involved in these war crimes.
“I understand everything has been done wrong and I hope for leniency from the Donetsk People's Republic.”
In a separate video, Aslin also repeated many of the same claims, but refused to admit that he had harmed civilians.
Aslin said: “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].”
If convicted of their 'crimes', all three men are set to receive the death penalty.
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information
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