A British aid worker recently freed after being captured by Russian forces in Ukraine has spoken of the sadistic torture he endured at the hands of Vladimir Putin's troops.
Dylan Healy and Paul Urey were ambushed in April during an aid mission in Ukraine, ordered out of their cars and forced to kneel by the roadside.
A soldier carried out a mock execution as he fired a shot between them before taking them to prison where Dylan, who was freed on September 21 with four other Brits, says he was beaten with batons, tortured with electric prongs and waterboarded as his captors tried to extract a confession.
Father-of-four Paul, 45, tragically died in captivity on July 10.
Recalling the mock execution, Dylan told the Sunday Mirror: “All the gunman had to do was pull the trigger and we were gone. We were silent. He asked us if we had any last words and we said no.
"Then he fired a shot into the mud in the middle of the two of us. Paul went, ‘That was a close one’.”
After the merciless ordeal of the mock execution, the duo were cuffed, bags put over their heads, and taken to a facility near Mariupol.
They were in separate cells and, Dylan says, tortured for days by the FSB – Russia ’s Federal Security Service.
He said: “There was no panic, I was resigned. I didn’t want to cry because it wasn’t going to change it. They shouted at you if you slept.
"They waterboarded me. They put me on a table, put a rag in my mouth and poured water in until I was choking.
“When I spoke to Paul he said this hadn’t happened to him. They wanted to know how we’d got behind the lines and why – and if we were British spies.
“There were regular beatings, every day. They had old-style police batons and my ribs were broken.
“The Russians have a love of Tasering, they had these long prongs which they put in your skin. Paul had been Tasered - he said it was easier than he thought it would be.”
The pair were taken to the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and bundled into cells the size of a single mattress.
Heavy metal music by the likes of AC/DC, Rammstein and Slipknot was blasted out. There were 63 songs in a four-hour loop – and that’s how Dylan kept a check on the time.
During his two weeks there Dylan says he was Tasered several times.
In June, he and Paul were moved to a prison in Makiivka, where they were given toothbrushes and allowed to watch football.
There, they learned fellow hostages Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner had been sentenced to death.
On July 8, Dyland and Paul were dragged to a prosecutor’s office and presented with charges of “mercenary activities”.
Dylan was told he faced 14 years in jail and the death penalty, while Paul faced seven years.
They signed a confession “to minimise risk to ourselves”, says Dylan.
They were still subjected to a beating. On their way back to jail, Paul was taken out of the van to be sick.
Dylan says: “They did something to make him scream for 10, 20 seconds. I don’t think I’ll ever hear someone scream like that again. That was the last time I saw Paul alive.”
Two days later, fellow Brit captive John Harding called for medical help as Paul began coughing and choking.
“At that point we said, ‘Paul’s dead’,” says Dylan. “I couldn’t take it in. He was a very good friend – I honestly would have swapped with him straight away.”
He says the beatings then stopped and the hostages were given salad and extra water.
Dylan and four others appeared in a “circus” court on August 15 where he switched his plea to not guilty to being a mercenary and “undergoing training to seize power by force”. The case was adjourned.
Fearing he was being driven to his death, Dylan was “cuffed, bagged and gagged” – struggling to breathe inside a vehicle with 20 others for 18 hours.
“I was given the best right hook to the face I have ever received in my life,” he shudders. “I thought we would end up in a ditch or mass grave somewhere.”
Instead, he, John, Shaun, Aiden and fellow Brit Andrew Hill found themselves at a Russian airstrip where representatives from Saudi Arabia said they were safe.
They were joined on a flight out by ex-Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, said to have helped broker their release.