Aiden Aslin, 28, and British Army veteran Shaun Pinner, 48, have been sentenced to death after a mock trial in pro-Russian Donetsk and could face a firing squad
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The ex-British Army comrade of a British soldier sentenced to death in Ukraine has branded the “disgraceful” sentence as a war crime.
Aiden Aslin, 28, and British Army veteran Shaun Pinner, 48, have been found guilty at a show trial in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, a proxy for the Kremlin, of seizing power by force.
Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, is a former comrade of Mr Pinner as they served together in the same Royal Anglian Regiment.
He has condemned the sentencing of both men as he spoke about Mr Pinner, from Bedfordshire, saying: “It is a disgrace and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms.
“Shaun is a soldier and should be treated as one.
“This decision is a war crime and violates the Geneva Convention relating to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.
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“Shaun Pinner is a highly respected ex-serviceman and everyone loved him when he served as a comrade and friend.
“There is a tremendous amount of emotion within the regiment about this.
“These two men served in the Ukrainian army and, under the Geneva Convention, should be given the same fair and legal treatment as lawful combatants.”
It is believed the horrific sentencing of both men will include death by firing squad, in violation of the Geneva Convention’s rules on the treatment of prisoners of war and the immunity of prisoners of war.
They are allowed to appeal the verdict, but last night it sparked outrage from family members of the two men, military friends and colleagues and politicians.
Mr Aslin’s family said in a statement: “We have heard news from Donetsk and need some time to absorb everything.
“We love Aiden with all our hearts.
“As members of the Ukrainian armed forces, he and Shaun should be treated with the same respect as any other prisoner of war.
“They are not mercenaries and have never been.
“We hope this sentence is overturned and are asking the UK and Ukraine governments to do everything in their power to ensure they are brought back to us safely and soon.”
“We can only imagine what they are going through right now.
“This is a very worrying development and we ask that our privacy be respected at this time.”
The British government insisted that the verdict had no legitimacy and the two should be treated as prisoners of war.
Secretary of State Liz Truss said: “I strongly condemn the condemnation of Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner by Russian proxies in eastern Ukraine.
“They are prisoners of war. This is a bogus judgment without any legitimacy.
“My thoughts are with the families. We continue to do everything we can to support them.”
Labor immediately condemned the conviction.
Shadow Minister for Europe MP Stephen Doughty said: “It is an outrageous and shameful breach of international law for the Russian regime or its puppets to use an illegitimate court to prosecute legitimate prisoners of war who are entitled to combatant immunity.
“The international law of armed conflict must be observed at all times.
“The FCDO urgently needs to support the families of these soldiers who will be in dire need at this time.”
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Mr Aslin, originally from Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire, and Mr Pinner were both members of regular Ukrainian military units who fought in Mariupol, the southern port city that was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Pinner is married to a Ukrainian and both men legally enlisted in the Ukrainian military in 2018, well before the invasion of Russia on February 24 this year.
Both are believed to be Ukrainian nationals.
Robert Jenrick, Tory MP for Newark, said of his constituent Aslin’s death penalty: “This Soviet-era show trial is the latest reminder of the depravity of the Russian state.
“As prisoners of war, they are entitled to protection under the Geneva Convention.”
A spokesman for No 10 said: “We are obviously very concerned about this. We have said time and time again that prisoners of war should not be exploited for political purposes.
“Under the Geneva Convention, prisoners of war are entitled to combatant immunity and should not be prosecuted for taking part in hostilities.
“Therefore we will continue to work with the Ukrainian authorities to try to secure the release of all British nationals who have served in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and are being held as prisoners of war.”
dr Commenting on the rulings, Aurel Sari, an expert in conflict and security law from the University of Exeter, said: “British nationals serving in the Ukrainian armed forces are not mercenaries but legitimate combatants.
“They cannot be prosecuted for lawful military actions carried out prior to their capture.
“Condemning you for taking part in hostilities is a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Including the 1949 Third Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War.
In addition to Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner, a third man, Moroccan national Saaudun Brahim, was convicted.
The men were accused of being “mercenaries” after fighting with Ukrainian troops.
Russian media outlet RIA Novosti reported that the three are facing a firing squad.
Russia’s Interfax news agency claimed the men could appeal their convictions.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/ex-uk-army-comrade-brit-27194099 Ex-British Army comrade sentenced to death brands 'disgraceful' sentence a war crime - World News