3 Brits face to face DEATH PENALTY as Russia accuses them of being ‘mercenaries’

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THREE Brits are facing the death penalty in a secret Russian court after being accused of acting as mercenaries.

John Harding, Andrew Hill and Dylan Healy also face terrorism charges in a trial beginning next week, it was confirmed.

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John Harding was captured by Russian forces in MariupolCredit: GEORGIAN NATIONAL LEGION/ BBC

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Fellow Brit Andrew Hill was also fighting for UkraineCredit: East2West

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Aid worker Dylan Healy is also going on trialCredit: SWNS

All three are being held by pro-Russian separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Harding and Hill were both fighting in the Ukrainian armed forces while Healy is an aid worker, who was carrying out humanitarian work.

News of their trial was released through the Interfax news agency.

“The court hearing is scheduled for August 15, it will be held behind closed doors,” it quotes a representative of the DPR Supreme Court as saying.

The agency added that according DPR law the defendants are found guilty, they face punishment up to the death penalty.

It comes after two other Brits were sentenced to death being put on trial in the DPR.

Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48 – both serving members of Ukraine’s army – were sentenced to death by a kangaroo court after reportedly being tricked to admit they are terrorists.

Dad-of-four Hill, from Plymouth, was paraded in April on Russian TV after apparently suffering gunshot wounds.

In footage appeared to be wounded with a head bandage and his left arm in a sling. 

Hill looked tired and terrified and kept his head bowed as he looked at the floor, occasionally glancing up nervously as he asked if he would ever get back to England.

Harding, originally from Sunderland, was captured by Russians as he defended the Azovstal steelworks in embattled Mariupol with Ukrainian units as part of the Azov regiment.

All four Brits who fought for Ukraine did so as part of the country’s armed forces and are not mercenaries.

In July he appeared in a chilling propaganda video in which he was forced to record his “last words” to his daughter as he pleaded with Boris Johnson for help.

The clip, shared on Telegram, shows Harding – who is in his fifties – being interviewed by a Russian TV presenter.

Cambridgeshire aid worker Dylan Healy, 22, was captured along with another Brit, Paul Urey, near the town of Zaporizhzhia.

The two men were on a rescue mission to save a woman and two children in Dniprorudne.

They were working for the the non-profit organisation Presidium Network

Dominik Byrne, the co-founder and chief operating officer of the charity, said that the men who were working independently as humanitarian aid volunteers.

He said the family were later interrogated by Russian forces, who asked them about the British spies.

Paul, 45, sadly died in July and his family accused the Russians of failing to provide proper medical care for the diabetic.

He had reportedly been charged with “mercenary activities” by the Donetsk People’s Republic.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We condemn the exploitation of prisoners of war and civilian detainees for political purposes and have raised this with Russia.

“We are in constant contact with the Government of Ukraine on their cases and are fully supportive of Ukraine in its efforts to get them released.”

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Brit fighters Aiden Aslin, left, and Shaun Pinner, right, have been sentenced to death

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The pair, alongside Moroccan fighter Saaudun Brahim, ‘pled guilty’ on WednesdayCredit: Reuters

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