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UK decries 'sham judgment' as two British fighters captured by Russian forces are sentenced to death

According to RIA Novosti, two Britons were taken prisoner by Russian forces in Ukraine while they were fighting.

Another Russian news agency reported that Aiden Aslin (28), and Shaun Pinner (48) were accused of being mercenaries.

They were captured in Mariupol, April in the fierce fight for control over the port city. After that they appeared in court in Donetsk People’s Republic.

They have admitted to “training in terrorist activities”.

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Another man, Saaudun Brahim (a Moroccan national), was also reported to have been sentenced.

According to RIA, the punishments were imposed by the DPR’s supreme Court.

According to Interfax, a court official stated that the men were guilty of “mercenary actions and committing actions aimed towards seizing power and overthrowing constitutional order of DPR”.

Image (L–R) Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, Saaudun Brahim

Aslin, who was behind bars, said that he hoped the sentence would be more fair considering the circumstances under which he assisted the investigation as well as the fact that he surrendered to Donetsk People’s Republic. It could have been different, but God will be the judge when it comes.

Robert Jenrick, Conservative MP and Mr Aslin’s MP, responded to the sentencing by saying that it was “extremely concerning” and adding that there is “no evidence backing up the charges”.

Russian military has claimed that foreign mercenaries fighting in Ukraine are not combatants.

Moscow stated that a long sentence in prison is what they should expect if they are captured.

If the sentence is executed, they will likely face firing squad.

They are the first foreign fighters to face Russian-backed separatists.

Their lawyer stated that they will do so.

Another British fighter captured in pro-Russian forces is Andrew Hill. He is currently awaiting trial.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss stated that she “utterly condemned” the sentencing and described it as a “sham judgement with absolutely no legitimacy”.

She tweeted, “They are prisoners in war.” We will continue to support them in every way possible.”

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Before being taken into custody Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner spoke to Sky News.

Official spokesman for the prime minister said that Mr Aslin, Mr Pinner and Mr Pinner should not be prosecuted.

He said, “We are obviously deeply disturbed by this.

“We have repeatedly said that prisoners of war should not be used for political purposes.

“You will know that prisoners of war have the right to combatant immunity under the Geneva Convention. They should not be prosecuted if they participate in hostilities.

“So, we will continue working with Ukrainian authorities in order to secure the release of any British citizens who served in the Ukrainian Armed Forces or are being held as prisoners-of-war.”

RIA shared footage on social media that showed a translator asking Mr Aslin if he would plead guilty. He replied, “Yes.”

The video shows the Britons and Mr Brahim standing in the dock at the supreme court.

According to some reports, Pinner admitted “seizing power through force”.

In April, the 48-year old was captured saying that he was taken while defending Mariupol.

His family stated that he was not a mercenary or a volunteer, but that he was officially serving with the Ukrainian military.

Sky News was informed by him a few months prior to that he was on his fourth tour in Ukraine. He had served in the British Army for nine year and had lived in Ukraine since 2018.

Image A picture of Mr Pinner, a former soldier in the British Army, was shared by his family

Who are Shaun Pinner & Aiden Aslin, respectively?

Mr Pinner, a Watford native, is a former soldier in the British Army.

The 48-year old served with the United Nations in Bosnia and Northern Ireland.

Before he joined the army, he moved to Ukraine in 2018 with his wife.

Before being captured by Russian soldiers, he fought in the battle for Ukrainian resistance forces at Mariupol.

According to his family, Mr Pinner was to finish his three-year military contract at the end 2022. He planned to transfer to a humanitarian position in Ukraine.

British-Ukrainian Mr Aslin is a former care worker from Newark, Nottinghamshire.

In 2018, he traveled to Ukraine and enlisted with the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

After three years of military service, Mr Aslin was granted Ukrainian citizenship.

Robert Jenrick, the MP for Newark, raised concerns about Ukraine’s treatment during Prime Minister’s Questions earlier in the year.

The 28-year old has a Ukrainian girlfriend and hopes to get a mortgage to buy an apartment in West Ukraine.

According to him, he became interested in Ukraine after the Maidan Protests in late 2014, when there was civil unrest and a wave of protests in the country.

On Tuesday, Mr Aslin’s family stated that it was a very sensitive and emotional time and that they were working together with the Ukrainian government as well as the UK Foreign Office to help the 28-year old.

They released a statement saying that Aiden was a beloved man who is greatly missed.

Former care home worker joined the Ukrainian armed forces in 2018 as a marine, applied for citizenship and is now married to a Ukrainian woman.

Robert Jenrick, a former Conservative cabinet minister, has condemned the “trumped up charges” against the British couple and called Russia a “completely absurd breach of international law”.

Referring to Mr Aslin’s statement, Mr Jenrick stated to the BBC that Jenrick is a British citizen but also holds Ukrainian citizenship. Jenrick said that he joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the normal manner prior to Putin’s illegal invasion and has been serving with the armed forces.

“He was taken prisoner in Russia by Russian forces. In accordance with international law, the Geneva Convention, and appropriate to his situation, he should have been held and returned to Ukraine as soon as possible, possibly through a prisoner swap.”

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