Captured Briton Aiden Aslin told his execution will go ahead

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Aiden Aslin was told to expect execution by firing squad - AP
Aiden Aslin was told to expect execution by firing squad - AP

A British fighter sentenced to death during a show trial in a Ukrainian rebel region has been told the execution will be carried out, it was reported on Wednesday night.

Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, were captured in the besieged city of Mariupol in April after their unit surrendered after holding off the Russian army for 48 days.

They were convicted of attempting “a violent seizure of power” by the “Supreme Court” of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR).

The men were told to expect execution by firing squad after pleading guilty to mercenary and terrorist activities.

On Wednesday night, the family of Mr Aslin told the BBC that his captors had informed him that the UK has yet to make any attempt to negotiate on his behalf.

Mr Pinner and Mr Aslin were captured in Mariupol in April
Mr Pinner and Mr Aslin were captured in Mariupol in April

Pamela Hall, Mr Aslin’s grandmother, said the family had spoken to him in a phone call in which he said he had been told "time is running out" by his captors.

"There are no words, just no words, it's got to be everyone's worst nightmare to have a member of your family threatened in this way", she told the BBC.

"Aiden was extremely upset when he called his mother this morning. The bottom line is Aiden has said the DPR has told him nobody from the UK has made contact, and that he will be executed.

"I have to believe what Aiden has said to us, that if the DPR don't get some response then they will execute him. Obviously I hope that isn't true."

Russia and the Kremlin-backed rebel regions in the Donbas have consistently described the two men as mercenaries, rather than prisoners of war, a label that allowed a show trial in Donetsk earlier this month to order them to be shot.

A Moroccan man, Brahim Saadoun, was also sentenced to death during the same hearing.

There had been hope that a prison swap between Ukraine and Russia might secure the freedom of the men.

However, Denis Pushilin, the head of the DPR, which is unrecognised internationally, played down this prospect in comments reported by Russian media last week.

"First of all, I must be guided by the court decision that has been made,” he said.

"By the nature of those articles, those offences that they committed, I see no grounds or prerequisites for me to pardon them.

"They came to Ukraine to kill civilians for money. That's why I don't see any conditions for any mitigation or modification of the sentence."

He added the court had "issued a perfectly fair punishment" to the three fighters.

The Britons were legal combatants serving with Ukraine's armed forces and fully entitled to protection for prisoners of war under the Geneva convention, British ministers have previously insisted.

Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, said she had discussed the case with her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kulebo, earlier this month.

Mr Aslin, 28, is a former care worker from Newark and Mr Pinner, 48, is a former British soldier with the Royal Anglian Regiment. They had both moved to Ukraine in 2018 and signed military contracts with the Ukrainian army.

The family of Brahim Saadoune said that he had signed up as a contract soldier in the Ukrainian army in 2021.

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