'Devastated' family of Brit facing death penalty for fighting against Russia slam his 'show trial'
The family of Brit facing the death penalty for fighting against Russia has slammed his 'illegal show trial' and said he is 'very proud' to have taken up arms for Ukraine. Shaun Pinner's relatives said they were 'devastated and saddened at the outcome of the illegal show trial'. They said: '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. Two British-born prisoners of war were forced to lie that they were terrorists in a Russian proxy court - as Ukraine offer a swap to get the death-sentenced pair back to safety Shaun Pinner, 48, (left) and Aiden Aslin, 28, (right) admitted they were 'undergoing training with the aim of carrying out terrorist activities' in the so-called supreme court of Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) British fighters captured while fighting in Ukraine were forced to beg for their lives in scripted phone calls to UK journalists by the Russian-backed separatists who are holding them captive. '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. Boris Johnson has ordered ministers to do 'everything in their power' to secure the release of Pinner, 48, and fellow Brit Aiden Aslin, 28, after the pair were condemned to death in what the UK Government has described as a 'sham' sentencing. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss discussed efforts to secure their release with her Ukrainian counterpart on Friday, after the judgement by a Russian proxy court. British Army veteran Mr Pinner (right), from Watford, looked distraught in the caged dock as the sentence was read out on Thursday, while Mr Aslin (left), from Newark in Nottinghamshire, remained silent but composed Larysa Pinner, a Ukrainian native, said her husband Shaun was a 'warrior' and warned that the 'circus' surrounding her husband's sentencing will be dragged out by Russia's propaganda machine for maximum effect Pictured: Shaun Pinner (second right) is seen in this selfie, along with Aiden Aslin (second left)
Ukraine's ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, suggested on Friday that negotiations for a possible prisoner swap with Moscow were under way, as it emerged Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had made a surprise visit to Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Ms Truss said she had spoken with Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba 'to discuss efforts to secure the release of prisoners of war held by Russian proxies'. She tweeted: 'The judgement against them is an egregious breach of the Geneva Convention. In a statement to the Newark Advertiser, a relative of Mr Aslin urged Britain and Ukraine to 'do everything in their power to have them returned to us safely, and soon'. A former care worker, Mr Aslin (pictured left) moved to Ukraine after falling for his now-wife Diane (pictured right), who is originally from the city of Mykolaiv - found about 260 miles west of Mariupol, along the coast. Aiden (circled) was serving with Ukraine's 36th Marine Brigade, but his communication with the outside world via social media became increasingly sporadic as his team was surrounded by Russian forces bombarding the city of Mariupol They said Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner 'are not, and never were, mercenaries' and should be treated as prisoners of war as they were fighting as part of the Ukrainian army. The men were convicted of taking action towards violent seizure of power at a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic. Britain argues that Mr Aslin, from Newark in Nottinghamshire, and Mr Pinner, from Bedfordshire, are legitimate members of the Ukrainian army and should therefore be treated as prisoners of war. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss condemned the sentences as a 'sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy' in a statement A third man, Moroccan national Saaudun Brahim, was convicted alongside the Britons. The men were accused of being 'mercenaries' after fighting with Ukrainian troops. Interfax, a Russian news agency, claimed they would be able to appeal against their convictions.
Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner were both members of regular Ukrainian military units fighting in Mariupol, the southern port city which was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting since Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the convictions were 'guided by the laws of the Donetsk People's Republic', the breakaway state controlled by pro-Moscow separatists. He said: 'Because these crimes were committed on the territory of the Donetsk People's Republic, all the rest is speculation. The key to the British men's fate could be oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, known as Vladimir Putin's 'man in Ukraine' and currently in Kyiv's custody. The hostage Britons were previously paraded on camera asking to be exchanged in a prisoner swap for Medvedchuk, 67. Putin is godfather to one of his children and their families have enjoyed Black Sea holidays together. Oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, who is known as Vladimir Putin's 'man in Ukraine' and is currently in Kyiv's custody However the Ukrainian authorities seem unwilling to give up Medvedchuk - who lived in Kyiv - as he was last week charged with treason. The former politician and lawyer had been placed under house arrest last year, accused of selling military secrets to Moscow and helping in the annexation of Crimea. But he fled four days after the invasion in February, only to be arrested in April while wearing military fatigues in an attempt to blend in. He was offered to Moscow in return for 'boys and girls who are now in Russian captivity', something that was dismissed by the Kremlin but which came with a warning Ukrainian leaders should 'watch out'. Yesterday's show trial is being seen as a possible tit-for-tat response.
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