Newark man Aiden Aslin has appeared in a Russian separatist court on charges that could see him face a possible death penalty, following his capture by Russian forces earlier this year.
Aslin, 28, was first captured by Russian soldiers after surrendering, along with his regiment of the Ukrainian Marines, in the besieged port city of Mariupol in April, along with fellow Brit Shaun Pinner, 48, from Watford.
The pair were then shown on a Russian state television broadcast, calling for a prisoner exchange with pro-Kremlin politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who is currently facing a treason trial in Ukraine.
Aiden and Shaun are accused of being mercenaries for Ukraine forces rather than legitimate prisoners of war, and are being held in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic – a breakaway region by Ukraine formed by pro-Russian separatists.
They are facing charges for their involvement with the Ukrainian military – which they both say they have legitimately served since 2018 – and a state prosecutor has told them they both could face the death penalty.
The pair deny claims from the Donetsk People’s Republic that they killed civilians during their time as Ukrainian soldiers, with the DRP president saying “the crimes they committed were monstrous”.
It has been widely reported that Aslin and Pinner appeared in the dock at the unrecognised breakaway region, speaking only to confirm their awareness of the charges they face, as well as saying they consent to the case without witness evidence.
The Telegraph posted a video to its YouTube page showing Aslin, Pinner and one other male, Moroccan national Saaudun Brahim, appearing in court for what appears to be a preliminary hearing ahead of their trial.
The saga has been arduous for the British duo and their loved ones, and Aiden Aslin’s family said in a statement on Tuesday that they were working with the Foreign Office and Ukrainian government to bring him back to the UK.
The statement says: “We, the family of Aiden Aslin, wish to ask for privacy at this time from the media.
“This is a very sensitive and emotional time for our family, and we would like to say thank you to all that have supported us.
“Aiden is a much-loved man and very much missed, and we hope that he will be released very soon.”