UK doing ‘everything we can’ to free nationals after ‘sham trial’, says Brandon Lewis

·2-min read
UK doing ‘everything we can’ to free nationals after ‘sham trial’, says Brandon Lewis

The UK is “doing everything it can” to secure the release of the two UK nationals who were handed a death sentence at a “sham trial”, Brandon Lewis has said.

Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge, the Northern Ireland Secretary confirmed the UK Government is working with Ukrainian officials to free Shaun Pinner, 48, and Aiden Aslin, 28.

He said on Sunday: “It’s pretty dispicable and we’re working with Ukrainains. We are doing everything we can to support the individuals and indeed, Ukraine.

“It’s difficult to go into the details of any particular case but they served in the Ukrainian armed forces and therefore, are protected by the Geneva convention. We’ve got to keep the pressure on.”

Both were found guilty of “mercenary activities and committing actions aimed at seizing power and overthrowing the constitutional order of the Donetsk People’s Republic” and sentenced to death this week.

 (Sky News)
(Sky News)

A Moroccan national called Saaudun Brahim was also convicted alongside Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner.

Liz Truss has held talks with Ukrainian officials in order to help secure the release of the two Britons, while Boris Johnson has ordered ministers to do everything to achieve their release.

The family of Mr Pinner released a statement earlier this week via the Foreign Office, saying they were “devastated” by the outcoem of the trial.

They added: “As a Ukrainian resident for over four years and contracted serving marine in the 36th Brigade, of which he is very proud, Shaun should be accorded all the rights of a prisoner of war according to the Geneva Convention and including full independent legal representation.

“We sincerely hope that all parties will co-operate urgently to ensure the safe release or exchange of Shaun. Our family, including his son and Ukrainian wife, love and miss him so much and our hearts go out to all the families involved in this awful situation.

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

Asked on the current situation in Ukraine, Mr Lewis insisted the UK would continue to send lethal supprot to aid the state.

Although fighting has intensified in the east, Mr Lewis said the Government will continue to lead the way in providing support for Ukraine in its fight against Vladimir Putin’s forces.

According to the governor of Luhansk, Russian forces have seized control of large areas of Severodonetsk.

“The situation remains difficult. Fighting continues, but unfortunately, most of the city is under Russian control. Some positional battles are taking place in the streets,” said Serhiy Gaidai.

He added Russian forces were using “highly destructive thermobaric rocket artillery” that is “dismantling floor-to-floor buildings that are used as shelters”.

“Unfortunately, enemy artillery is simply dismantling floor-to-floor buildings that are used as shelters. In this sense, it is difficult because the enemy will be knocked out of one street, and then they will start dismantling neighbourhoods house by house with tanks, artillery and grads,” the governor said according to a CNN report.

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