Late last week, the Donetsk People’s Republic’s (DPR) Supreme Court ruled that three mercenaries captured while fighting for the Ukrainian forces, UK citizens Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, as well as Moroccan Saadun Brahim, had all been sentenced to death.
Denis Pushilin, head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), has told Sputnik that the republic would decide on the execution of UK and Moroccan mercenaries no sooner than in a month.
“There is a month to appeal the decision in the constitutional order. After an appeal is filed or not, we will come to the conclusion that the DPR’s Ministry of Justice will make a decision within its powers to carry out the punishment,” he pointed out.
According to Pushilin, “Within a month, it [the sentence] will definitely not be carried out because a month is given for appeal. After it is appealed or not, the next decision will be made”.
In his opinion, the very fact that such mercenaries are tried in court should be a signal to those who plan to fight on the side of Ukraine.
The remarks come after the DPR’s Supreme Court sentenced UK citizens Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, as well as Moroccan Saadun Brahim, who were earlier captured while fighting for the Ukrainian forces, to death on 9 June.
All three mercenaries earlier pleaded guilty on charges of trying to seize power by force, which can be punishable by death under DPR law. UK citizen Aiden Aslin also pleaded guilty to undergoing training for the purposes of engaging in terrorist activities. The court ruled that all three received payment for fighting on the side of Ukraine.
Pushilin said following the court’s ruling that the convicts did not try to conceal their crimes and added that with the death penalty sentence, “justice has prevailed”. He added that neither the UK nor Moroccan authorities had contacted the DPR regarding the future fate of their citizens, suggesting they did not care about them.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, for his part, called on the international community and media not to speculate on the DPR sentencing the three mercenaries.
“At the moment, all of the processes you have mentioned are based on the laws of the Donetsk People’s Republic, because the crimes in question were committed on the territory of the DPR. Everything else is a subject for speculation; I would not interfere in the work of the judicial and legal system of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” Lavrov told reporters.
This was preceded by the Russian Foreign Ministry indicating that London had not contacted Moscow over the fate of its nationals, and accusing UK authorities of being disinterested in their fate.
Russian and Donbass forces have repeatedly urged foreigners to stay out of the conflict in Ukraine, with the Russian military warning that the rules of warfare do not apply to mercenaries, and that anyone who was captured alive would be held criminally liable for their actions.
On 24 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of a special military operation to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine following a request by the DPR and the neighbouring Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) to protect them from Kiev’s provocations. The operation is limited to targeting Ukraine’s military infrastructure with high-precision weapons, according to the Russian Defence Ministry.