Photo: From left: Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner and Saaudun Brahim in court this week; Telegram

Pro-Russian forces holding the Donbass region of Ukraine have sentenced two British men and a Moroccan man to death after they were captured during the battel for Mariupol.

Aiden Aslin, who is 28 years old, and Shaun Pinner, who is 48, were subjected to a show trial before the sentence was passed. Both were convicted on charges of terrorism.

Both men were serving in the Ukrainian marines and were official Ukrainian soldiers meaning that a death sentence is illegal under the Geneva convention, which forbids the execution of prisoners of war.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said of the sentence:

“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 … my thoughts are with the families. We continue to do everything we can to support them.”

Russian-backed TV station RIA Novosti said both men had pled guilty to crimes such as terrorism, committing a crime as part of a criminal group, and forcible seizure of power or forcible retention of power.

A spokesperson for the UK Government said:

“We are obviously deeply concerned by this. We have said continually that prisoners of war shouldn’t be exploited for political purposes. You will know that under the Geneva conventions prisoners of war are entitled to combatant immunity and they should not be prosecuted for participation in hostilities. So we will continue to work with the Ukrainian authorities to try and secure the release of any British nationals who were serving in the Ukrainian armed forces and who are being held as prisoners of war.”

While British MP Robert Jenrick added:

“This disgusting Soviet era show trial is the latest reminder of the depravity of Putin’s regime. Contrary to the Kremlin’s propaganda, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner are not mercenaries. They have been living in Ukraine and serving in its armed forces long before Russia’s illegal invasion, and as prisoners of war they and are entitled to protection under the Geneva convention[s]. The Russian ambassador should be summoned to the Foreign Office to account for this egregious breach of the Geneva convention[s]. No one should think they can treat British citizens like this and get away with it.”

Initially, the UK government had allowed British volunteers to go and fight in Ukraine but has now said this should not be done and anyone doing so could face criminal prosecution in the UK.

[Based on reporting by: The Guardian]

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