After negotiations lasting more than six weeks, the Russian Federation has finally handed the body of Paul Urey, a British aid worker from Warrington in England. Urey, 45, died while being held hostage by Russian-controlled forces in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR). He was detained on April 29, held hostage, but died on July 10 while in custody.

Initial claims by Russia that Urey died from “illness and stress” turned out to be false. Urey was tortured to death.

In July, Russian propagandists claimed that Paul Urey died from ‘illness and stress’,” writes Dmytro Lubinets, the Verkhovna Rada’s Commissioner for Human Rights, on Telegram. “Today, on September 7, we obtained his mutilated body.”

Lubinets said that forensic medical experts will confirm the cause of Paul Urey’s death and that the UK Embassy in Ukraine has been duly informed.

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“As a [Human Rights] Commissioner, I can state, with full responsibility for my words, that [Urey’s] was a violent death. A human cannot survive torture like that. I saw photographs of [Urey’s] body; they leave no doubt [as to the fact that he had been tortured].”

Lubinets added that Urey’s torture and subsequent murder is a war crime which will be more piece of evidence during the tribunal against the Russian political and military leadership. “Evidence in the tribunal over Putin,” he underlined.

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On April 29, Dominik Byrne, the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Presidium Network, said that Urey had been detained at a checkpoint in Zaporizhzhia Region, with a fellow Briton, Dylan Healy. Most of Zaporizhzhia Region has been occupied by Russian invasion forces since the beginning of March.

The two men were later charged with “mercenary activities” by separatists in the rebel-held DNR.

Daria Morozova, the DNR’s ombudsman for prisoners’ rights, wrote on Telegram that Urey had died on July 10 as a result of “illness and stress”.

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“Already during the first medical examination, Paul Urey was diagnosed with a number of chronic diseases, including insulin-dependent diabetes, damage to the respiratory system, kidneys and a number of diseases of the cardiovascular system,” Morozova added.

In early May, Urey appeared on Russian state TV in handcuffs. In the footage, which had been made under duress, he said things consistent with Russian propaganda narratives.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter: “I express my deepest condolences to relatives and close ones of Paul Urey. He was a brave man who dedicated himself to saving people. Ukraine will never forget him and his deeds.

“We will identify perpetrators of this crime and hold them to account. They won’t escape justice.”

Following the news of his death, Urey’s mother Linda Urey expressed her anger, branding his captors as “murderers,” and asking: “Why did you let him die?”

The Russian ambassador to the UK, Andrey Kelin, was summoned to the Foreign Office to face questioning over what happened to Urey.

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