Family of Briton sentenced to death for fight against Russia breaks silence at ‘show trial’


The family of a Briton sentenced to death for fighting Russian forces say they are ‘devastated’.

Secretary of State Liz Truss spoke with her Ukrainian counterpart on Friday about efforts to secure the release of Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, following a ruling by a Russian proxy court.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered ministers to do “everything in their power” to secure the release of the two Britons after they were sentenced to death for fighting Russian forces.

A statement released by the Foreign Office on behalf of Shaun Pinner’s family said: “Firstly, our entire family is devastated and saddened by the outcome of the illegal show trial by the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic.

“As a resident and contract Marine in Ukraine for over four years in the 36th

“We sincerely hope that all parties will work together as a matter of urgency to ensure the safe release or replacement of Shaun.

“Our family, including his son and his Ukrainian wife, love and miss him so much and our hearts go out to all the families involved in this terrible situation.

“We respectfully ask the media for privacy at this difficult time.”

British citizens Aiden Aslin (L) and Shaun Pinner (R) and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim (C)



Ambassador of Ukraine to Britain Vadym Prystaiko indicated that negotiations for a possible prisoner swap with Moscow were underway as it emerged that Defense Minister Ben Wallace had left for a surprise visit to Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

A relative of Mr Aslin urged Britain and Ukraine to “do everything in their power to ensure they return to us safely and soon”.

They said Mr Aslin, 28, and Mr Pinner, 48, are “not and never have been mercenaries” and should be treated as prisoners of war as they fought as part of the Ukrainian army.

The men were found guilty of violent seizures of power in a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Aiden Aslin (L), Shaun Pinner (R) and Saaudun Brahim (C)



A No 10 spokesman said: “The Prime Minister was appalled by the conviction of these men.

“He has been following the case closely and has asked ministers to do everything in their power to try to reunite them with their families as soon as possible.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the fake sentencing of these men to death. There is no justification whatsoever for this breach of their protection.”

Ms Truss said she spoke about “efforts to release prisoners of war from Russian proxies” during her call with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Shaun Pinner captured by Russian forces



“The verdict against her is a egregious violation of the Geneva Convention,” she added.

Mr Prystaiko believed the two Britons, who he said were targeted for Britain’s support for Kiev’s resistance to Russian President Vladimir Putin, would be released in exchange for prisoners held by Ukrainian forces.

The ambassador told BBC News: “It will be a swap.

“The important question is what the price will be, because the Russians talked about exchanging some Ukrainian MPs for them, especially those who I now understand have worked for them all these years.”

Mr Wallace discussed with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov and Mr Zelensky how the UK can continue to support Kyiv “when the conflict enters a different phase”.

The Ministry of Defense only wanted to say that the two-day visit took place “this week” and it was unclear if they had spoken about the men convicted on Thursday.

A statement has been issued on behalf of Shaun Pinner’s family



Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the convictions were “guided by the laws of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” the breakaway state controlled by pro-Moscow separatists.

“Because these crimes were committed on the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic, everything else is speculation,” he told a press conference.

The government refused to invite the Russian ambassador to the UK to discuss the case, while officials walked a diplomatic tightrope.

There were concerns it could help Moscow make its case a point of contention between Britain and Russia that the men were “mercenaries” and therefore not entitled to protection under international law.

Britain argues that Mr Aslin, from Newark in Nottinghamshire, and Mr Pinner, from Bedfordshire, are legitimate members of the Ukrainian Army and should therefore be treated as prisoners of war.

In a statement to the Newark Advertiser, a member of Mr Aslin’s family said: “We love Aiden with all our hearts. As members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, he and Shaun should be treated with respect, just like all other prisoners 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.”

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.

Russia’s Interfax news agency claimed the men could appeal their convictions.

Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner were both members of regular Ukrainian military units fighting in Mariupol, the southern port city that was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Former Tory minister Robert Jenrick, who represents the constituency where Mr Aslin lived, called for the Russian ambassador to Britain to be summoned to the Foreign Office.

It comes after a friend of Mr Aslin said the death sentences would “revive” those who still resist Russia’s advances.

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