Saturday, June 25, 2022

British soldiers captured by Russian forces have been sentenced to death by a court in separatist Donetsk

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Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner fought in the regular armed forces of Ukraine

The British government has said it is “deeply concerned” by reports in Russian state media that British soldiers Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner have been sentenced to death by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Mr Aslin, 28, and Mr Pinner, 48, were captured by Russian forces last month while fighting in the besieged south-eastern port city of Mariupol.

Both fought in the regular Ukrainian armed forces, which were to give them the protection of the Geneva Convention after capture.

However, Russian separatists have claimed they are “mercenaries” despite living in Ukraine and serving in its army.

On Telegram, the Kremlin’s RIA News agency said: “The Supreme Court of the DPR has made the first verdict on mercenaries – Britons Aiden Aslin and Sean Pinner and Moroccan Saadun Brahim have been sentenced to death, RIA Novosti correspondent reports from the courtroom.”

Mr Pinner, from Bedfordshire, and Mr Aslin, from Nottinghamshire, appeared before the DPR court, which is not internationally recognised, along with Moroccan national Saaudun Brahim, who was also reportedly sentenced to death.

Downing Street said the Government was “deeply concerned” by the sentences passed against the couple, who were found guilty of using force to seize power.

A No 10 spokesman said: “We are obviously deeply concerned about this. We have said time and time again that prisoners of war should not be exploited for political purposes.

“You will know that under the Geneva Convention prisoners of war are entitled to combatant immunity and should not be prosecuted for taking part in hostilities.

“Therefore we will continue to work with the Ukrainian authorities to try to secure the release of all British nationals who have served in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and are being held as prisoners of war.”

Secretary of State Liz Truss took to Twitter to “absolutely condemn” the sentencing, which had “absolutely no legitimacy,” and said her thoughts are with the families of those involved.

Local media reports say the two soldiers could be executed by firing squad, as is common in cases involving the military.

The news agency reported the three defendants had one month to appeal the decision.

The defendants are said to have pleaded partially guilty to some of the charges on Wednesday.

On Monday, Dominic Raab said the Foreign Office would “make all statements” on Mr Aslin’s behalf and his family have also issued an emotional statement calling for his release.

They said: “We, the family of Aiden Aslin, would like to ask for privacy from the media at this time.

“This is a very sensitive and emotional time for our family and we would like to thank everyone who has supported us.

“We are currently working with the Ukrainian government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to try to bring Aiden home. Aiden is a very loved man and will be greatly missed and we hope he will be released very soon.”

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