European Court rules British men must 'not be executed' after given death sentence fighting for Ukraine

The European court rules humanitarian treatment of Brits sentenced to death
It's not so simple as Russia have distance from European Court
The demands
2 British sentenced to death
Who are they?
What happened?
Can you murder prisoners of war?
What is the Geneva Convention ?
In simple terms please
Then how can they do it?
What did they say?
How were they captured?
But, are they Mercenaries?
The Russians say yes, but the UK say no
Russia sends a message
Russia is the only country in the world to think so
Amnesty International deems these War Crimes
The UK foreign secretary on Twitter
Was the trial public?
Can they appeal?
What is the world’s response?
Labelled 'disgusting'
The European court rules humanitarian treatment of Brits sentenced to death

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled Russia 'must ensure that two British soldiers sentenced to death in Ukraine are not executed', according to a report from Daily Mail. They had previously been sentenced to death for fighting as 'foreign mercenaries' in Ukraine.

Photo: Handout via REUTERS

It's not so simple as Russia have distance from European Court

In March, Russia had announced the wish to withdraw from the Council of Europe and were expelled. So how can the Court still have the power to make demands? There is a 'grace period' in the council treaty that declares Russia is still under the jurisdiction until September.

The demands

Judges from the European Court of Human Rights came to a decision about the case on Thursday 30th June, saying to Moscow that Putin must 'ensure that the death penalty [is] not carried out' and work to make sure the men are being kept in humane conditions and given medical care, as reported by Daily Mail.

Photo: Russian State News Agency TASS

2 British sentenced to death

A court in a separatist-controlled breakaway region of eastern Ukraine had previously issued death sentences to two British citizens, who were captured while fighting for the Ukrainian army against Russian forces. One has recently filed appeal papers to get his sentence overturned.

Who are they?

Those with the death sentence are Aiden Aslin, 28, from Nottinghamshire; Shaun Pinner, 48, from Bedfordshire, and a third man, Saaudun Brahim, a Moroccan national. Aiden’s family told the BBC about a phone call he made to his mother where he said the Russian-proxy court have told them ‘time is running out’ and no one from the UK has been in touch to try and appeal on their behalf.

Photo: Twitter @cossackgundi

What happened?

Two British men and a Moroccan national were captured while fighting for the Ukrainian army in Mariupol. They have been sentenced to death by pro-Russia officials after a trial taking days. A politician described it as a “disgusting Soviet-era show trial”. Their charges are violent seizures of power and undergoing training to carry out terrorist activities, according to Russian news outlets.

Can you murder prisoners of war?

No. According to the Geneva Conventions Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is illegal. It will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention.

What is the Geneva Convention ?

The Geneva Convention and their additional protocols form the core of international humanitarian law, which regulates the conduct of armed conflict and seeks to limit its effects. They protect people not taking part in hostilities and those who are no longer doing so.

Photo: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

In simple terms please

The Geneva Conventions are a series of treaties on the treatment of civilians, prisoners of war (POWs) and soldiers who are otherwise rendered incapable of fighting.

Then how can they do it?

The Russians are claiming that because they are not nationals from the Ukraine; that they are in fact mercenaries and therefore the Geneva Convention does not protect them. Photo shows Aidan in the green bandana.

Photo: Twitter @macergifford

What did they say?

The Russian military has argued that foreign fighters battling on Ukraine’s side are not troops and should expect to face trial if captured. Another British fighter captured by pro-Russian forces, Andrew Hill, is currently awaiting trial.

How were they captured?

According to CNN, the three fighters had been apprehended during fighting by Russian forces in April, in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

But, are they Mercenaries?

According to Aljazeer news, Pinner and Aslin’s relatives have argued both are long-serving members of the Ukrainian military and not mercenaries. They had moved to Ukraine in 2018, as the BBC reveals.

The Russians say yes, but the UK say no

“Contrary to the Kremlin’s propaganda, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner are not mercenaries. They have been living in Ukraine and serving in its armed forces long before Russia’s illegal invasion, and as prisoners of war they and are entitled to protection under the Geneva convention", said Robert Jenrick, Tory MP

Russia sends a message

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said their sentences would set a "clear example to other soldiers of fortune fighting for Ukraine".

Russia is the only country in the world to think so

As stated previously, the separatist-controlled breakaway region of eastern Ukraine, known as the Donetsk People’s Republic, is only recognised by Russia as being independent. The world in general does not accept the region and its institutions. Russia aside, the globe considers the area to be part of Ukraine.

Amnesty International deems these War Crimes

“Russia and its proxies in the Donetsk People’s Republic will be adding to a massive catalogue of war crimes if they attempt to carry out these sentences.” said Amnesty International UK’s crisis response manager.

The UK foreign secretary on Twitter

The UK foreign secretary, Liz Truss said. “They are prisoners of war. This is a sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy … my thoughts are with the families. We continue to do everything we can to support them.”

Was the trial public?

The whole process was closed with only small fragments of the proceedings made public through the pro-Kremlin media.

Photo: Izvestia/east2west news

Can they appeal?

An official said that the men would have one month to appeal against their sentence and, if an appeal was accepted, it is possible they could receive a life or 25-year prison sentence instead of the death penalty.

What is the world’s response?

Amnesty International UK’s crisis response manager, Kristyan Benedict, called the decision “grotesque”.

Photo: Twitter @cossackgundi

Labelled 'disgusting'

Tory MP for Newark Robert Jenrick, said: “This disgusting Soviet-era show trial is the latest reminder of the depravity of Putin’s regime."

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