Captured Britons In Ukraine Prepare Death Sentence Appeals

Two Britons and a Moroccan that served with the Ukrainian Marines in the siege of Mariupol are reportedly preparing an appeal against death sentences from a court run by Russian proxy forces in Ukraine.

The Russian state-run TASS news agency quoted one of the lawyers for Briton Shaun Pinner that a formal appeal was being prepared in “interests of our defendants”. Failing that, said Yulia Tserkovnikova, a request for clemency would be made, as “an inherent right of the defendants, under the legislation of the Donetsk People’s Republic”.

Pinner was captured alongside fellow Briton Aiden Aslin and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun following the surrender of Ukrainian troops at the end of the siege of Mariupol. All three are members of the Ukrainian Marines that fought to defend the port city, but Russian media has sought to portray them as “mercenaries”, with their convictions also including charges of fighting as such.

Aslin’s family told the BBC that they had spoken to him in a phone call, in which he said he had been told “time is running out” by his captors as the British government had not contacted representatives of the internationally unrecognized Donetsk People’s Republic. Aslin’s grandmother Pamela Hall said that Aslin was extremely upset during the call, telling them that he would be executed if the DPR did not receive a response.

In response to a request for comment from Overt Defense, a spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said:

“We are doing everything we can to support the men and are in close contact with and helping their families.

We condemn the exploitation of prisoners of war for political purposes and have raised this with Russia. We are in constant contact with the Government of Ukraine on their cases and are fully supportive of Ukraine in its efforts to get them released.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss had previously “utterly” condemned the sentencing of the trio, describing their trial as “a sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy”.

Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the United Nations’ human rights office, said following the sentencing that the trial amounted to a war crime. “According to the chief command of Ukraine, all the men were part of the Ukrainian armed forces and if that is the case, they should not be considered as mercenaries,” said Shamdasani. UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric reiterated the UN’s opposition to the death sentence, calling for the trio and other captured soldiers to be afforded international protections in keeping with the Geneva Conventions.