We will execute captured British fighters: Pro-Russian separatist leader refuses to pardon pair sentenced to death for fighting for Ukraine claiming it is a ‘just punishment’ and there is no grounds to overturn court’s decision
- Leader of DPR is likely to hear pardon pleas from Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner
- Denis Pushilin preempted legal process to suggest he will not grant clemency
- Their hearing last week was widely seen in the West as a sham and show trial
The only man who can pardon two British fighters facing the death sentence has said he sees no grounds to do so.
The leader of Putin-backed separatist Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) is likely to hear pardon pleas from Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, along with a Moroccan Sadun Brahim, 21.
But Denis Pushilin has preempted the legal process in the puppet state to suggest he will not grant clemency.
Earlier, before their case was heard in court, he told how they were guilty of ‘monstrous’ crimes.
Leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Denis Pushilin speaks to journalists at the sea port of Mariupol
Their hearing last week was widely seen in the West as a sham and show trial.
In footage shown on Zvezda channel, controlled by Vladimir Putin’s defence ministry, Pushilin said: ‘As for possible exchanges, pardons and other things, at this moment I do have the right to pardon these people in accordance with our legislation.
‘But I do not see any preconditions for me to move in this direction.’
He said: ‘With the mercenaries, two British, one Moroccan – there was a court hearing, a direct court hearing, they were given lawyers….
‘Their crimes can be classified as grave and especially grave crimes.
‘It was easy enough to predict…that they should be sentenced to capital punishment.
British war prisoners Aiden Aslin (first from the left) and Shaun Pinner (second from the left) were sentenced to death penalty by Donetsk court on June 9
The trio are lodging legal appeals and these will be heard before any pleas to Pushilin for pardons
‘My personal opinion is that this is just punishment for those people who came to kill civilians for money from other countries.’
The trio are lodging legal appeals and these will be heard before any pleas to Pushilin for pardons.
But his statement appears to usurp the whole process, making a mockery of justice for the Britons and the Moroccan.
The trial they faced was riddled with questionable legal tactics, including the non-appearance of five witnesses on whose word they were convicted.
Aslin’s family said he and Pinner ‘are not, and never were, mercenaries’.
In footage shown on Zvezda channel, controlled by Vladimir Putin’s defence ministry, Pushilin said: ‘As for possible exchanges, pardons and other things, at this moment I do have the right to pardon these people in accordance with our legislation. But I do not see any preconditions for me to move in this direction.’
They were living in Ukraine when war broke out and ‘as members of Ukrainian armed forces, should be treated with respect just like any other prisoners of war’, the family said in a statement.
Almost alone, Putin recognises the DPR as independent.
Under international law it is part of Ukraine, which does not carry out the death penalty, just as Russia does not.
A suspicion is that Putin wants the men to be bartered for pro-Kremlin prisoners held in Ukraine, like politician and tycoon Viktor Medvedchuk, a friend of the Kremlin leader.
A third British detainee Andrew Hill, 35, a father of four from Plymouth, has also been told to expect the death penalty when his verdict is handed down.