Foreigners who fought for Ukraine plead guilty — RT Russia and the former Soviet Union

Three foreigners who fought for Ukrainian forces pleaded guilty to a number of charges in a Donetsk court on Wednesday. British nationals Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin, and Moroccan citizen Ibrahim Saadoun, face a series of charges – some of which carry the death penalty – after they were captured by Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) forces ) in and around the city of Mariupol.

The DPR, recognized by Russia in February, claims sovereignty over the former Ukrainian provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk. Kyiv still considers the land as part of its territory.

Aslin, Pinner and Saadoun pleaded guilty under article 232 of the DPR code, for “undergo training for the purpose of carrying out terrorist activities”. Pinner also admitted the 323 charge, “act of taking power by force”.

All three declared that they were not guilty of having been mercenaries in an armed conflict (article 430) or of having participated in a conspiracy (article 34). The proceedings against them before the Supreme Court of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) began on Monday.

The DPR accuses Ukraine of military aggression against the separatist state, which first declared independence in 2014 following the US-backed coup in Kyiv. The two Britons said they had fought on the Ukrainian side since 2018.

Under DPR laws, taking power by force is punishable by 12 to 20 years in prison, but can be increased to the death penalty due to aggravating circumstances in times of war. Being a mercenary is punishable by a prison sentence of three to seven years.

Pinner and Aslin were captured at Mariupol in April as Russian and DPR troops cut off a brigade of Ukrainian marines to which they were attached. Neo-Nazi “Azov” militants held out at an industrial complex in the Black Sea port city for another month before surrendering on May 20.

London demanded that Aslin and Pinner be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. However, the DPR stressed that the conventions apply only to uniformed soldiers of a national army, not to foreign mercenaries.

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