Russia’s defense ministry news network said two captured Britons and a Moroccan appeared in court for a war crime hearing in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), in footage it posted on June 7.
Zvezda News named the men as Sean Pinner, Aiden Aslin, and Saaudun Brahim. They said they had “fought against the forces of Donbas and Russia.”
Aslin and Pinner were captured in mid-April while defending the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. A video of Aslin after his capture was removed from YouTube following claims it violated the Geneva Convention.
On June 5, the Prosecutor General’s Office of the DPR said both British men were to appear in court after an investigation found them to have taken “part in the armed aggression of Ukraine to forcibly seize power in the DPR … for material reward.”
The prosecutor’s office said the sentence could carry the death penalty given the alleged crimes were committed in wartime.
In the footage, Aslin, Pinner, and Brahim can be seen rising from seats behind bars. A translator can be heard asking the men, “Do you know the information of your indictment?” and “Do you have any objections to this case?” All three reply that they do and have no objections.
in an interview with Talk TV in April, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Russia to treat captured British fighters “humanely and compassionately.”
Robert Jenrick, the MP for Aslin’s home constituency, told the BBC that a prisoner exchange was the “most likely route” to get Aslin to safety, but said it was for the Ukrainian government to make the final decision.
The Chairwoman of the Committee on Criminal and Administrative Legislation of the People’s Council of the DPR, Elena Shishkina, told TASS on June 1 that foreign mercenaries who fought on the Ukrainian side in the Donbas were not subject to exchange.
The men are charged with “committing crimes on the territory of the Republic under Part 2 of Art. 34 (commission of a crime by a group of persons) art. 323 (forcible seizure of power or forcible retention of power), part 2 of Art. 34 h.3 Art. 430 of the Criminal Code of the DPR (mercenarism), as well as Art. 232 (undergoing training for the purpose of carrying out terrorist activities).” Credit: Zvezda News via Storyful