Three foreign nationals, including two Britons and a Moroccan, have been sentenced to death by a court in Russian controlled Donetsk, east- Ukraine. The soldiers were part of the Ukrainian army fighting against Russians in Mariupol.
Soldiers Were Dubbed as 'Mercenaries' by Russian Authorities
The trio, identified as Aiden Aslin, from Newark, Shaun Pinner, from Watford, and Ibrahim Saadun were charged with 'terrorism'. Following days-long proceedings , dubbed as 'show trial' on 'trumped-up charges', the pro-Russian officials found the trio guilty of the crime.
The Russian state media reported; "Pro-Russian officials have sentenced to death two British men and a Moroccan national captured while fighting in the Ukrainian army in Mariupol."
The trio were caught in Mariupol following heavy clashes in April. They were accused of acting as "mercenaries" for Ukraine and attempting to "seize power and overthrow the constitutional power" of the self-proclaimed republic.
The Guardian reported that as per the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war, the Britons who were serving in the Ukrainian Marine were active-duty soldiers and should have been protected. However, Russian state media painted the duo as mercenaries, and the court also convicted them on the charge of "being a mercenary".
Footage Shows Captured Soldiers Pleading Guilty
The state-run news agency, RIA Novosti, shared a footage of the trio pleading guilty to the charges against them on Wednesday. The charges included, terrorism, committing a crime as part of a criminal group, and forcible seizure of power or forcible retention of power.
Citing a report by Ukraina.ru, the outlet reported that sources have claimed that the three soldiers will not be executed but would be used by Russians to force British authorities to recognize the puppet republic's independence.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, MP Robert Jenrick said that the trial was "a completely outrageous breach of international law and it should be condemned".
"The Russian authorities have chosen to make an example out of these two British nationals and it is, I think, completely shameful," he said adding that is hoping a prisoner exchange occurs "in the near future".