World News

BREAKING: Three British citizens among five foreigners charged with being mercenaries by Donetsk court


A Russian-backed court in Donetsk has charged five captured foreign nationals with being mercenaries, with three British men among them.


Five foreign nationals who were captured in eastern Ukraine have appeared today, Monday, August 15, in a Russian-backed separatist court in Donetsk. They were charged with being mercenaries, with three British men among the five, according to

Under the laws of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, three of the five defendants could face a possible death sentence, according to TASS, the Russian state-owned news agency. These are Croatian national, Vjekoslav Prebeg, a Swede, Mathias Gustafsson, and one British citizen, John Harding. 

The three were all captured in or around the port city of Mariupol when it fell to the invading Russian forces. TASS claimed that all five of the men pleaded not guilty, and citing the judge, said they must now wait until early October to learn of their fate, when the trial will resume.

Andrew Hill and Dylan Healy, the other two Britons, will apparently not face the death sentence but were still charged with being mercenaries.

‘Croatia dismisses the indictment and does not consider it to be founded and legal because it is opposed to international law and international conventions on the treatment of detained civilians and prisoners of war’, read a statement from the Croatian Foreign Ministry in response to the charges against Prebeg.

All five defendants were seen sitting in a metal cage as the charges were read out, in images released from the courtroom. They were subsequently escorted from the room with bags over their heads. Their guards’ caps were clearly emblazoned with the infamous ‘Z’ symbols, and Russian flags.

Since 2014, the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic has been one of two Russian-backed entities in the Donbas region of Ukraine. They control large parts of eastern Ukraine but foreign governments have refused to acknowledge them or their laws.

In June, a similar trial sentenced 28-year-old Aiden Aslin, 48-year-old Shaun Pinner, and another Moroccan national, to death. They were captured while fighting with Ukrainian forces and charged with being mercenaries, and of forcibly trying to take control of the region.


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Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at

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