Sweden’s Mathias Gustafsson, Croatia’s Vjekoslav Prebeg and Britain’s John Harding, Andrew Hill and Dylan Healy have pleaded not guilty to charges of acting as mercenaries, Russian media reports said.
Under the laws of the self-proclaimed and virtually unrecognized Donetsk “People’s Republic” (DLR), they can be sentenced to death.
The next court hearing in their case is scheduled for October, Russian media reported.
J. Harding, V. Prebeg and M. Gustafsson were captured in the southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. They face the death penalty for trying to “seize power by force” and “participating in an armed conflict as mercenaries,” the RIA Novosti news agency said.
Mr Hill is charged as a mercenary, while Mr Healy is on trial for his involvement in recruiting mercenaries for Ukraine, the news agency added.
On June 9, the Supreme Court of the DLR imposed the death penalty on two Britons and a Moroccan citizen, recognized as mercenaries, who were captured by pro-Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine. All three have appealed their sentences.
Russia has had a moratorium on the death penalty since 1997, but it does not apply to Ukraine’s separatist “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk.
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