The pro-Russian government sentenced to death two Britons and one Moroccan who fought in the Ukrainian army in Mariupol. The verdict was handed down by a court in Donetsk, a part of Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian authorities.
After several days of trial, the British, 28-year-old Aiden Aslin from Newark and 48-year-old Shaun Pinner from Watford, were convicted. They were charged with alleged war crimes against Russian soldiers in Kyiv. Sadun Brahim from Morocco, who was charged with terrorism, was also convicted.
“The Supreme Court of the Donetsk People’s Republic sentenced Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Sadun to death, accused of having taken part in the fighting as mercenaries” reported the official Russian news agency TASS.
British fighters said they had served in the Ukrainian army and should have been protected by the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War. However, the Russian state media presented them as mercenaries and they were tried as mercenaries.
Russia's RIA Novosti news agency released footage of the men yesterday, June 8, showing them "admitting guilt" for the acts they were charged with. Pro-Russian officials say they are guilty of killing and injuring civilians, as well as causing damage to civilian infrastructure.
They can appeal the verdict
The convicted soldiers allegedly have a month to appeal the verdict, and if it is accepted, they could be in prison for 25 years. British Foreign Minister Liz Truss has slammed the death sentences handed down to two British nationals.
"I utterly 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 with absolutely no legitimacy," Truss said in a tweet.
According to the Guardian, Russia is trying to force Great Britain to exchange prisoners for Russian soldiers convicted of war crimes during the aggression against Ukraine. Aslin's family pointed out that he had been in the Ukrainian army for four years, and that Russian allegations were propaganda. They believe that Russia violated the Geneva Convention, forcing him to speak after physical abuse.