The family of a British fighter in Ukraine who was captured by Russian forces have thanked supporters as he faces charges that carry a possible death penalty.
Relatives of Aiden Aslin, one of three men accused of being mercenaries for Ukrainian forces, have said they are working with the Foreign Office and Ukrainian government to get him home.
In a statement released through the Foreign Office, they described Mr Aslin as a “much-loved man and very much missed”.
It comes after the president of Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk People’s Republic said the region’s supreme court is opening the trial of the three Britons.
The BBC reported on Tuesday that Mr Aslin, 28, and one of his co-accused Shaun Pinner, 48, had appeared in the dock in the pro-Russian territory.
If the men are convicted of the charges, which include trying to “seize power”, it is feared the court, which is not internationally recognised, could pass the death penalty.
They were both members of regular Ukrainian military units in Mariupol. The affiliation of a third British man, Andrew Hill, who was captured in the Mykolaiv area, is unclear.
Footage of three men, reported to be Mr Aslin, Mr Pinner and Saaudun Brahim, a Moroccan national, in what appears to be a court dock emerged on Tuesday.
They spoke only to confirm they were aware of the charges they face and say they consented to their case proceeding without witness evidence, according to the BBC.
Separatist president Denis Pushilin on Monday claimed “the crimes they committed were monstrous”, according to separatist news agency DAN.
Mr Aslin’s family said in the statement on Tuesday: “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.
“We are currently working with the Ukrainian government and the Foreign Office to try and bring Aiden home. Aiden is a much-loved man and very much missed, and we hope that he will be released very soon.”
Dominic Raab has said the Foreign Office will “make all the representations” on Mr Aslin’s behalf.
Speaking on Monday, he told LBC: “In relation to that case, I don’t know all the details, but of course we would expect the laws of armed conflict to be respected, and we will make sure that we will make all the representations.
“I know the Foreign Office will be looking at making sure all those representations are made.”