Captured Britons Fighting in Ukraine Sentenced to Death in 'Show Trial'

The prisoners have been identified as Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner from Britain and Saaudun Brahim of Morocco.

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Edited By :Tejas Harad

Two British men and a Moroccan national, who were captured while fighting in the Ukrainian army in Mariupol, were sentenced to death by pro-Russia officials on Thursday, 9 June, The Guardian reported.

Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner were found guilty in a court in Russia-controlled east Ukraine after a days-long process that some have dubbed a "show trial" aimed to replicate war crimes hearings involving Russian soldiers in Kyiv.

According to The Guardian, Aslin, 28, a resident of Newark, and Pinner, 48, from Watford, were found guilty by a court in Russia-controlled territory in Donetsk with Saaudun Brahim, from Morocco, on charges of "terrorism."


Active Troops or Mercenaries?

Aiden and Pinner have stated that they were serving in the Ukrainian marines, making them active-duty troops who are entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions on POWs (Prisoners of War). The men, however, have been depicted as mercenaries by Russian official media, and they have been found guilty of "being a mercenary" by a Russian court, reported The Guardian.

The men pleaded "guilty" to the allegations against them, which included terrorism, committing a crime as part of a criminal group, and forced seizure of authority or coercive retention of power, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

According to The Guardian, Russia is also said to be using the procedure to exert pressure on the United Kingdom, and may seek a prisoner exchange for Russian soldiers convicted of murder and other war crimes during Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The death penalty is prohibited in Russia, but not in the territory it controls in eastern Ukraine.


Statements by Families and Government

Aslin's family, in a statement accessed by The Guardian, earlier this week said that he had spent nearly four years in the Ukrainian marines and that he “is not, contrary to the Kremlin’s propaganda, a volunteer, a mercenary, or a spy.”

The family also charged Russia of breaking the Geneva Conventions by broadcasting a video of Aslin "speaking under duress and visibly suffering physical ailments."

The trial, according to British MP Robert Jenrick, was “a completely outrageous breach of international law and it should be condemned.”

“The Russian authorities have chosen to make an example out of these two British nationals and it is, I think, completely shameful," the minister told BBC Radio 4 and added that he hoped for prisoners exchange in near future.

Ukraine sentenced three Russian soldiers for war crimes in connection with Russia’s invasion which began on 24 February. While Vadim Shishimarin (21) was sentenced to life imprisonment on 23 May for killing a 62-year-old civilian in Ukraine’s Sumy, Alexander Bobikin and Alexander Ivanoc were sentenced to over 11 years in prison for “violated the laws and customs of war.” Bobikin and Ivanoc were sentenced for shelling attacks on population centres.

(With inputs from The Guardian.)

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