The family of a British man sentenced to death for fighting Russian forces have said they are “devastated” and called for “urgent cooperation” to secure his release.
Shaun Pinner, 48, received the death penalty, along with fellow Briton Aiden Aslin, this week in what the UK government has branded a “sham” sentencing.
The pair were captured in April while fighting as part of the Ukrainian army to defend the southern port city of Mariupol against invading Russian troops.
After the conclusion of their trial by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, a Russian puppet regime supported by Vladimir Putin, Pinner’s family called the situation “awful”.
In a statement released via the Foreign Office, they said: “Firstly, our whole family is devastated and saddened at the outcome of the illegal show trial by the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic.
“As a Ukrainian resident for over four years and contracted serving Marine in the 36th Brigade, of which he is very proud, Shaun should be accorded all the rights of a prisoner of war according to the Geneva conventions and including full independent legal representation.
“We sincerely hope that all parties will cooperate urgently to ensure the safe release or exchange of Shaun.
“Our family, including his son and Ukrainian wife, love and miss him so much and our hearts go out to all the families involved in this awful situation.”
Both families say Pinner and Aslin, 28, were fighting legitimately as part of the Ukrainian army and prisoners should be treated as of war.
Boris Johnson demanded his ministers do “everything in their power” to secure the release of the men, who were sentenced alongside a Moroccan national.
A No 10 spokesperson said: “The prime minister was appalled at the sentencing of these men.
“He has been following the case closely and has asked ministers to do everything in their power to try and reunite them with their families as soon as we can.
“We completely condemn the sham sentencing of these men to death. There’s no justification at all for this breach of the protection they’re entitled to.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, suggested that negotiations for a possible prisoner swap with Moscow were already under way.
He told BBC News: “It will be a swap. The important question is what will be the price for this, because the Russians were talking about some Ukrainian MPs being swapped for them, especially for those who, I now understand, were working for them for all these years.”
Meanwhile, the foreign secretary said she had spoken with her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, “to discuss efforts to secure the release of prisoners of war held by Russian proxies”.
Liz Truss tweeted: “The judgment against them is an egregious breach of the Geneva convention. The UK continues to back Ukraine against Putin’s barbaric invasion.”
The UK defense secretary, Ben Wallace, made an unannounced visit to Kyiv for talks with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on Friday.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism