UN human rights office concerned about pro-Moscow rebels trial of captured fighters

AP , Friday 10 Jun 2022

The U.N. human rights office has voiced concern about the death sentences imposed by pro-Moscow rebels in Ukraine on three captured foreigners who were fighting on the Ukrainian side.

Fighters trial
Two British citizens Aiden Aslin left, Shaun Pinner, right, and Moroccan Saaudun Brahim, center, sit behind bars in a courtroom in Donetsk, the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People s Republic control, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, June 9, 2022. AP


A court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic found two Britons and one Moroccan guilty of seeking the violent overthrow of power. The men were also convicted of mercenary activities and terrorism.

U.N. rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani noted Friday that, according to the Ukrainian military, all three were part of Ukraine's armed forces. She said if that is the case they ``should not be considered as mercenaries''

Shamdasani said that, since 2015, the office has observed that the judiciary in rebel-run separatist areas ``has not complied with essential fair trial guarantees, such as public hearing, independence and impartiality of the court and the right not to be compelled to testify.''

She added that ``such trials against prisoners of war amount to a war crime.''

In other developments, the British government says Russia must take responsibility for the ``sham trial'' of two Britons who have been sentenced to death for fighting against Russian forces in Ukraine.

Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, were convicted along with a Moroccan man by a court run by Russia-backed rebels in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, which is not recognized internationally.

The two Britons were members of a Ukrainian military unit and were captured in the southern port of Mariupol.

Government minister Robin Walker said 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.''

He said ``Russia needs to take responsibility, its responsibilities under the Geneva Convention, for the treatment of prisoners of war.''

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.

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