Two Brits, one Moroccan: Foreign fighters sentenced to death by Donbass separatists
“The Supreme Court of the Donetsk People’s Republic sentenced Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun to death, accused of taking part in the fighting as mercenaries,” the official Russian news agency TASS reported.
The three defendants will “appeal”, the lawyer for one of the three men, Pavel Kosovan, told TASS.
According to TASS, Shaun Pinner and Brahim Saadoun had pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of “mercenaries” but admitted their participation in the fighting “aiming at the violent seizure of power”.
Aiden Aslin’s family explained at the end of April that he had moved to Ukraine in 2018, where he met his girlfriend and finally settled in Mykolaiv. He had decided to join the Ukrainian Marines and served in that unit for nearly four years.
“He is not, contrary to Kremlin propaganda, a volunteer, a mercenary, or a spy. Aiden was planning for his future outside the army, but like all Ukrainians, his life was turned upside down by Putin’s barbaric invasion,” according to his family.
Shaun Pinner’s family had also explained that he was “neither a volunteer nor a mercenary, but officially serves in the Ukrainian army in accordance with Ukrainian legislation”. He also moved to Ukraine in 2018 and married a Ukrainian.
Pro-Russian officials had hinted in recent weeks that captured Ukrainian soldiers, including those from the nationalist Azov regiment, could face trial and the death penalty.
A moratorium on the death penalty has been in force in Russia since 1997, but this is not the case in the two separatist territories in eastern Ukraine.
On Wednesday, the International Legion for the Defense of Ukraine (Lidu) denounced the trial of one of its members captured by the separatists, Andrew Hill. According to this organization which brings together foreign volunteers fighting with Ukraine, Andrew Hill is a “legionnaire who has a contract with the Ukrainian army” and not a mercenary.
Four foreign volunteer soldiers, including a Frenchman, were killed fighting the Russian invasion in Ukraine, announced Lidu, the official body for foreign volunteer fighters.
Russia for its part claimed this week to have killed “hundreds” of foreign fighters in Ukraine since the start of its offensive on February 24, managing according to it to stem the flow of newcomers.
The United Kingdom said Thursday it was “gravely concerned” after the announcement of the death sentence by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine of two British fighters who had joined the Ukrainian forces.
“We are obviously seriously concerned. We repeat that prisoners of war should not be exploited for political reasons,” said a spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“According to the Geneva Convention, prisoners of war benefit from immunity from combat and should not be prosecuted for their participation in hostilities”, denounced Downing Street.
“I strongly condemn the sentencing of Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner held by Russian proxies in eastern Ukraine. They are prisoners of war. This is a sham judgment without any legitimacy,” tweeted British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.