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Family ‘devastated’ by death sentence for Briton fighting Russians

The family of a Briton sentenced to death for fighting Russian forces have said they are “devastated”.

Boris Johnson has ordered ministers to do ‘everything in their power’ to secure the release of Shaun Pinner, along with fellow Briton Aiden Aslin, after the pair were sentenced to death in what the UK government called it a “sham” of sentencing.

On Friday, Foreign Minister Liz Truss discussed efforts to secure their release with her Ukrainian counterpart, following a Russian court’s proxy ruling.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office on Saturday on behalf of the family of Mr Pinner, 48, said they were “devastated and saddened by the outcome of the unlawful show trial”.

They added: ‘As a resident of Ukraine for over four years and under Marine contract serving in the 36th Brigade, of which he is very proud, Shaun should be granted all the rights of a prisoner of war in accordance with the Convention of Geneva and including full independent legal representation.

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

“We respectfully request media privacy during this difficult time.”

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, suggested on Friday that talks for a possible prisoner swap with Moscow were underway, as it emerged that Defense Secretary Ben Wallace had paid 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 judgment against them is a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention. The UK continues to support Ukraine against Putin’s barbaric invasion.

In a statement to the Newark Advertiser, someone close to Mr Aslin urged Britain and Ukraine to “do everything in their power to get them back to us safe and sound, and soon”.

They said Mr Aslin, 28, and Mr Pinner “are not, and have never been, mercenaries” and should be treated as prisoners of war as they were fighting in the Ukrainian army.

The men were found guilty of taking steps towards a violent power grab in a court in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic.

Britain argues that Mr Aslin, from Newark in Nottinghamshire, and Mr Pinner, from Bedfordshire, are legitimate members of the Ukrainian military and should therefore be treated as prisoners of war.

A third man, Moroccan national Saaudun Brahim, was convicted alongside the British.

The men were accused of being “mercenaries” after fighting with Ukrainian troops.

Interfax, a Russian news agency, said they could appeal their convictions.

Both Mr. Aslin and Mr. Pinner were members of regular Ukrainian military units fighting in Mariupol, the southern port city that has seen some of the heaviest fighting since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the sentences were “guided by the laws of the Donetsk People’s Republic”, the breakaway state controlled by pro-Moscow separatists.

“Because these crimes were committed on the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic, everything else is speculation,” he told a press conference.

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Post expires at 2:18am on Thursday June 23rd, 2022