(Headline USA) The British government said Russia must take responsibility for the “sham trial” of two Britons and a Moroccan who were sentenced to death for fighting against Russian forces in Ukraine.
Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun were convicted by a court run by pro-Moscow separatist authorities in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, which is not recognized internationally.
Separatist authorities argued that the men were “mercenaries” not entitled to the usual protections accorded prisoners of war.
The families of Aslin and Pinner have said that the two men were long-serving members of the Ukrainian military. Saadoun’s father told a Moroccan online newspaper that his son is not a mercenary and that he holds Ukrainian citizenship.
Government minister Robin Walker said Friday that it was “an illegal court in a sham government” but that the U.K. would use “all diplomatic channels to make the case that these are prisoners of war who should be treated accordingly.”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is due to speak to her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba later Friday about the case. The U.K. has not announced any plans to speak to Russian officials — and it does not recognize the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic and will not officially contact the authorities there.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the ministry has so far not received any specific appeals about the men from Britain and as such, “we can make an unambiguous conclusion that until now the fate of these citizens was not of interest to London.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press