British militants handed down death sentence ‘forced to admit terrorism charges’

Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin reportedly contacted a newspaper a few weeks ago to offer reports contradicting their guilty pleas in a Russian-backed sham trial

Aiden Aslin (left) and Shaun Pinner (center) were sentenced to death
Aiden Aslin (left) and Shaun Pinner (center) were sentenced to death

The British militants, who were sentenced to death in a Russian-backed sham trial, may have been tricked into admitting terrorism charges, according to reports.

Shaun Pinner, 48, and Aiden Aslin, 28, both pleaded guilty when they appeared in court in Russian-controlled Donetsk and were accused of “undergoing training with the aim of carrying out terrorist activities”.

However, The Sun reports that both men called the newspaper’s newsroom a few weeks ago to insist that they are fighting legally for Ukraine after settling there and becoming citizens.

Meanwhile, their families are reportedly concerned they have been tricked into pleading guilty, believing it would result in a lesser sentence.

The outlet says recordings of their calls to the newspaper detail how the couple felt they were legal combatants in Ukraine and as such should be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention.

These reports contrast with the guilty pleas the men filed in a Kremlin-controlled kangaroo court earlier this week.

Shaun Pinner told The Sun he believes he fought legally after moving to Ukraine

The charges were brought in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, an area in eastern Ukraine controlled by the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Pinner told The Sun on April 25: “We are scared to death. Mariupol is my adopted country.

“I’m not a freedom fighter – Mariupol is my home.”

Mr Aslin said he thought Russia could use the pair to create a future prisoner swap.

He said: “They agreed to do a prisoner swap with me and Shaun. It’s important that Boris Johnson can help influence that decision.”

They are said to have been arrested at gunpoint. The Sun said their calls were unreported at the time they were made because the Foreign Office had advised it could “compromise their security”.

The court was located in a region that supports Vladimir Putin’s regime

Picture: /east2west news)

On Thursday, a friend of Mr Aslin’s insisted the death sentence handed down to the couple would “empower” those in Ukraine who still oppose Putin’s forces.

Russia’s state media outlet RIA Novosti reported that the trio faces a firing squad, but Brennan Phillips, a former American soldier who met Mr Aslin in Syria and worked with him in Ukraine, said the verdict was a “provocation”.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Mr Phillips said: “I think it will energize people more than anything.

“Whatever effect you were hoping for from this provocation, I don’t think it will be well received. And they did it as a provocation.”

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