LONDON — The family of a Briton on death row for fighting for Ukraine said they were devastated by the outcome of what they called a “show trial” and demanded on Saturday that he be released and that he enjoys the treatment that an international convention of human rights guarantees to prisoners of war.
A court in Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk People’s Republic on Thursday convicted two British fighters and a Moroccan man of seeking to overthrow power by violence, an offense punishable by death in the eastern territory controlled by the rebels supported by Moscow.
The men were also convicted of mercenary activities and terrorism.
“Our whole family is devastated and saddened by the outcome of this illegal show trial,” said the family of one of the Britons, Shaun Pinner.
A statement issued by the UK Foreign Office on behalf of Pinner’s family said the 48-year-old had resided in Ukraine for four years.
“We sincerely hope that all parties will urgently cooperate to ensure Shaun’s safe release or exchange. 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 horrific situation,” the statement read.
The family also described Pinner as a proud “contract sailor of the 36th Brigade,” a Ukrainian naval infantry division that helped defend the beleaguered port city of Mariupol before it was captured by Russian forces.
As a member of the brigade, Pinner “should be granted all the rights of a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention and including full independent legal representation,” the family said.
Ukraine and the West have denounced the prosecutions in the unrecognized republic of Donetsk as a sham and a violation of the rules of war.
Pro-Russian separatists said on Saturday they were preparing to also try a South Korean citizen who had fought alongside Ukraine, but the man escaped. They said they still wanted to have him tried in South Korea, but it was unclear how that might happen.
Ukraine called on foreigners to join their resistance to the Russian invasion, and some responded to that call, although not all were accepted into the Ukrainian foreign legion.
Czech Republic Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said on Saturday that a Czech citizen died in Ukraine’s Donetsk region – the first reported Czech death among foreign volunteers.