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A man from Bedfordshire who had joined Ukrainians in defending their homeland from Russian armed forces has been sentenced to death after being captured. Following his capture Shaun Pinner, 48, originally from Bedfordshire was then handed out the sentence in the unrecognised and self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), a part of occupied eastern Ukraine.

Mr Pinner and another captured British man Aiden Aslin, 28, from Nottinghamshire are being treated as foreign “mercenaries” by authorities in the DPR because they were fighting for the Ukrainian army.

Britain and the men’s families argue they were legitimate members of the Ukrainian army and should accordingly be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention. The two men have lived in Ukraine since before the invasion.

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The Foreign Office on Thursday said it is doing everything possible to support the pair. A Foreign Office spokesperson told PA news agency: “We are doing everything we can to support the men and are in close contact with and helping their families.

“We condemn the exploitation of prisoners of war 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.”

No 10 described the sentencing as a “sham judgment” with “absolutely no legitimacy”.

Asked on Thursday if there was any update on any kind of agreement to bring the men home, possibly via a prisoner swap, the spokesman said: “That would be a question for the Ukrainian government. As I say, they were fighting – as part of the Ukrainian armed forces and we continue to work closely with them. But again, we continue to call the judgment out for what it is, which is a sham.”

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