Ukrainian separatist leader: We will not change the death sentence of a Moroccan and a British man | DW Arab News | Breaking news and perspectives from around the world | DW

A pro-Russian separatist leader in eastern Ukraine announced on Sunday (June 12) that he did not want to change the death penalty imposed on two Britons and a Moroccan for fighting with the Ukrainian army, saying it was “justify”.

“They came to Ukraine to kill civilians for money. That’s why I do not see conditions for any conversion or amendment of the sentence,” said Denis Pushilin, the leader of the Donetsk separatist region that ruled them. told reporters.

Pushilin added that “the court issued a completely fair sentence” to the three fighters, pointing out that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was not worried about their fate and had no contact with the separatist authorities.

Pushilin spoke during an interview with the press, which was attended by Agence France-Presse in Mariupol, as part of a trip organized by the Russian Ministry of Defense to this battle-torn Ukrainian city and in May by Russian and separatist forces. has been taken over.

Donetsk and Luhansk are breakaway provinces in Ukraine’s Donbass region fighting Russia to deprive it of all control of Ukraine.

The British Eden Aslin and Sean Benner and the Moroccan Ibrahim Saadoun apparently surrendered in April after fighting with the Ukrainian forces in the besieged city of Mariupol.

International and international criticism

The United Nations on Friday expressed its concern after the death sentence imposed on prisoners of war by pro-Russian separatists.

“Since 2015, we have observed that the so-called legal system of these unilaterally proclaimed republics does not meet basic guarantees of a fair trial, such as public hearings, the independence and impartiality of the courts, and the right not to be compelled to testify, Said Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the UN Human Rights Office.

“Such trials against prisoners of war constitute a war crime,” she told a news conference in Geneva. She stressed that in the event of a death sentence, “the guarantees of a fair trial are paramount.”

In New York, Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, on Friday recalled that the United Nations “opposes the death penalty”. “We demand that all detainees who are detained receive international protection and be treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions,” he told reporters in response to a question about the death sentence against the British and Moroccan.

Berlin, for its part, on Friday considered the death sentence against foreign fighters “shocking”.

Paris, in turn, expressed its “serious concern”. The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “these people should be treated in a way that respects international humanitarian law,” and called on Russia and its loyalists in Ukraine to “commit themselves in this regard”. to respect. “

An appeal to the British government for Saadoun

The British government came under pressure to demand the release of the Moroccan and the two British men sentenced to death. British Northern Ireland minister Brandon Lewis said in a statement to Sky News that the British government was “fully involved” with the Ukrainian authorities “in efforts to assist Aslin and Benner after the show trial” “what took place between them. .

Saadoun’s girlfriend, Zina Kotenko, told Sky from her home in the north of England, where she settled after escaping the Russian invasion, that the United Kingdom should intervene on behalf of Saadoun.

Kotenko said she first met the 21-year-old Saadoun in a nightclub in Kyiv and described him as “nice”, “open” and “fun”. She said that after several attempts, Saadoun had officially joined the Ukrainian army, as his weight had previously been considered below average.

Kotenko appealed to the British government, saying “Please take care of the people who care about democracy.” “The people are the voice, they are the face of the government. The face of the government is currently in jail … Please save (Saadoun).”

According to the families of Aslin and Piner, the two men have settled in the country since 2018 and are connected to two Ukrainian women, and have been serving in the Ukrainian army for years.

Eslin’s family said he and Bner “were never and will never be mercenaries”. The family wrote in a statement that they were in Ukraine when the war broke out and “should be treated with respect like any Ukrainian soldier and any other prisoner of war”.

The Moroccan government did not comment on the matter.

British soldier killed in Ukraine

In the field, a former British soldier was shot dead in Ukraine, his family announced Sunday, describing him as a “hero”.

Jordan Gately is the second Briton to be declared dead while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces in the face of the Russian invasion.

In a Facebook post, his father, Dean Gatley, said his son left the British army in March and went to Ukraine “after thinking well” about the move.

Gatly explained that his son was killed in the city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, which is under violent Russian attacks. The father added that his son’s Ukrainian comrades praised his “knowledge and skills as a soldier and his love of his job”.

Asked about Gatley’s death, a spokesman for the British Foreign Office said: “We support the family of a British man who died in Ukraine.”

Following fierce criticism from the British military leadership, Foreign Minister Liz Truss was forced to withdraw statements she made, which were interpreted as a call for the British to go to Ukraine to take part in the fighting. pull.

AH / SHM (AFP, Reuters)

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