‘Not much to be done’ Lawyer in chilling verdict over British fighters sentenced to death

Putin: Lawyer warns ‘not much’ can be done for UK soldiers

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Lawyer Wayne Jordash gave a grim verdict on the fate of two UK fighters, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, who were sentenced to death alongside a Moroccan national on charges of terrorism and acts of mercenaries on Thursday. The court, which is not internationally recognised, handed down the sentence in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), one of the two Russian-backed separatist provinces of the Donbas region in Ukraine. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin recognised the independence of both provinces before launching a full-blown invasion of the region that has seen fighting raging on since 2014.

Mr Jordash told Sky News: “Legally, there’s not much that can be done. You’re talking about a court which is not independent, which is not regularly constituted, which answers no doubt to Putin.

“So, international law, national law does not really account for such courts in terms of being able to intervene.

“If Putin was listening to international law, then we could go to the European Court of Human Rights. But if Putin was listening to any international law, this wouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she held talks with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba to “discuss efforts to secure the release of prisoners of war held by Russian proxies.”

An advisor to the Ukrainian interior minister said Putin’s Russia was using the death sentence to put pressure on Ukraine amid peace negotiations. 

He said: “The trial of the foreigners raises the stakes in the Russian Federation’s negotiation process. They are using them as hostages to put pressure on the world over the negotiation process.”

Other military observers argue the sentencing is meant to extract concessions from Western countries that have been delivering weapons and heavy artillery to Ukraine to defend itself against Russian forces.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has discarded Russia’s role in the proceedings, saying: “I’d rather not hinder the operation of the judiciary and law enforcement authorities of the Donetsk People’s Republic.”

Tory MPs Robert Jenrick and Richard Fuller, who both represent one of the UK nationals condemned in a “sham” trial, have called on Secretary Truss to act decisively on Russia.

Mr Jenrick told BBC Radio 4 Today’s programme: “I’ve urged the foreign secretary to raise this immediately at the highest levels with the Russian government.”

Addressing the Kremlin, he said: “The UK needs to be clear you can’t treat British nationals in this way. This really is the most egregious breach of international law.”

On Sky News, he then refuted the court’s allegations that both UK nationals are mercenaries.

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“Aiden and Shaun are not mercenaries, they are combatants, who are prisoners of war now and should be treated in accordance with the Geneva conventions, and the Geneva convention is being breached in the most egregious manner by Russia in holding this kangaroo court and now this sentence to death.”

According to the Geneva Convention, “causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war… is prohibited.”

Due to its links to Putin’s Kremlin, the court will most likely not abide by international law and the Geneva convention, lawyer Wayne Jordash said. 

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