Croatian Vjekoslav Prebeg, who fought for Ukraine in the ongoing war, is on trial by the Russian separatist authorities together with Briton John Harding, and Swede Mathias Gustafsson. They are charged with mercenary activity, and are facing the death penalty, state agency Hina cited Reuters which quoted Russian media outlets on Monday.
“A Russian-backed separatist court in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk charged five foreign nationals captured fighting with Ukrainian forces with being mercenaries on Monday, saying three could face the death penalty, Russian media reported,” Hina quoted Reuters as saying.
Prebeg, Harding, and Gustafsson were captured around the port city of Mariupol and they face a possible death sentence under the laws of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Hina quoted the Russian state news agency TASS as saying.
On 10 August, Croatia’s Foreign and European Affairs Ministry “strongly condemned” the indictment against Croatian national Prebeg, who has been detained in the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk.
Croatia “rejects the indictment and does not consider it to be legally sound because it is contrary to international law and conventions on the treatment of captured civilians and prisoners of war,” an unsigned foreign ministry press release carried by state agency Hina said last week.
“The ministry and competent services are in constant contact with the Ukrainian authorities and other partners in order to shed light on the case and have Prebeg released, the ministry said on 10 August, adding that it has been in touch with the detainee’s family,” Hina explained.
According to Reuters, two more Britons, Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill, were also charged but do not face execution. All five of the accused pleaded not guilty to the charges, TASS reported. Hina also quoted TASS which cited the trial judge as saying that the trial would resume in early October.