The body of UK humanitarian worker Paul Urey who died while being held captive by Russia-backed separatists has signs of “possible unspeakable torture,” according to a Ukrainian government official.
The breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic announced in July that Urey, who was described as a “mercenary,” had died of “illnesses and stress” more than three months after being captured in the city of Zaporizhzhia.
But Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted on Wednesday that Urey’s body has been returned “with signs of possible unspeakable torture.”
“Detaining and torturing civilians is barbarism and a heinous war crime,” he added.
Kuleba continued: “I express my deepest condolences to relatives and close ones of Paul Urie (sic). He was a brave man who dedicated himself to saving people. Ukraine will never forget him and his deeds.”
The minister vowed to identify those allegedly responsible for Urey’s torture and death, “and hold them to account” as he warned that “they won’t escape justice.”
Officials in the UK have said they have been informed of Urey’s torture while in Russian captivity.
A spokesperson for the UK Foreign Office said the government is “disturbed” after learning of Urey’s possible torture in detention.
“It is essential that we see the results of a full post-mortem as soon as possible,” the representative said, according to Sky News.
Urey, 45, was detained in April at a checkpoint near Zaporizhzhia along with another British volunteer worker, Dylan Healy.
The two men had been working independently to help evacuate civilians from the war zone.
Urey had been charged with “mercenary activities” and was later paraded on Russian state television in handcuffs.
Daria Morozova, the human rights ombudswoman for the Moscow-backed DPR, announced that Urey, who had Type 1 diabetes and required insulin, died on July 10. She claimed the foreign “mercenary” was given “necessary medial assistance despite the grave crimes he committed.”
Russian state news agency TASS quoted one official as saying that Urey “died of acute coronary insufficiency aggravated by pulmonary and brain edema.”
Britain’s Foreign Office said at the time it had summoned Russian Ambassador Andrey Kelin “to express the UK’s deep concern.”
Then-Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in July she was “shocked to hear reports of the death of British aid worker Paul Urey while in the custody of a Russian proxy in Ukraine.”
“Russia must bear the full responsibility for this,” she said.
Urey’s mother, Linda Urey, labeled her son’s captors “murderers” after his death, demanding to know, “Why did you let him die?”
The woman told Sky News that she had begged her son not to go to Ukraine, but she said Urey told her he could not live with himself knowing that people there needed help to get to safety. He is survived by his two daughters, ages 20 and 17.
With Post Wires