A Moroccan and two Britons have received death sentences from the pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine.
What’s their offense?
They fought for Ukraine in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. According to the court – in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, which is not recognized by the international community – the three men were found guilty of engaging in mercenary activities and terrorism, as well as working toward a violent overthrow of power, an offense punishable by death in the republic.
Did they plead guilty to the charges?
According to the Russian news agency TASS, two of the defendants pleaded not guilty to charges of “mercenarism” but admitted their involvement in the fighting “aimed at the violent seizure of power”. The separatist DPR claims that as ‘mercenaries’ they are not entitled to the usual protections afforded prisoners of war. There are reports that the three men – Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner, and Saaudun Brahim – are set to face a firing squad.
That remains to be seen, as one of the defense lawyers, Pavel Kossovan, has said that the defendants will “appeal”. In its reaction, the United Kingdom expressed grave concern over the ruling, which the UK’s Foreign policy chief Liz Truss denounced as a “sham judgment without any legitimacy”.
Meanwhile, Andrew Hill, another British fighter captured by the pro-Russian forces, is also awaiting trial. In his defense, the International Legion for the Defense of Ukraine (Lidu), which brings together foreign volunteers fighting with Ukraine, has said that Hill is a “legionnaire who has a contract with the Ukrainian army” and not a mercenary.