The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday said it had urged the Russian government not to carry out the death penalty against two British prisoners, Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin.
The Strasbourg-based court asked Moscow “to ensure that the death penalty imposed on [the prisoners] was not carried out,” as well as to make sure they were detained in appropriate conditions and provided with necessary medical assistance.
The two Britons face the death penalty in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, which is ruled by pro-Russian authorities, because they were accused of being mercenaries. The ECHR said the two men had been fighting with the Ukrainian armed forces since 2018, making them legitimate soldiers.
They were sentenced to death in early June by a Donetsk court, which is not internationally recognized.
U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss slammed the decision as “a sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy.”
A Moroccan national, Brahim Saadoune, was also given a death sentence by the Russians on the same grounds, and the ECHR issued a similar ruling earlier this month.
In a joint article released earlier this week, Truss and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that “Russian proxies have breached the Geneva Convention [which lays out the rights of prisoners of war] in the way they treat prisoners of war, including British citizens serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”
The human rights court requested that the Russian government provide information within two weeks to show what actions have been taken to respect the rights of both prisoners.
Although Russia has been excluded since mid-March from the Council of Europe, which oversees the Strasbourg court, Russia is still party to the European Convention on Human Rights until September 16. Failing to follow the court’s instructions (which is likely) would constitute a breach of the convention.