• Two British nationals and a Moroccan man were sentenced to death by a pro-Russian court, state media said.
  • The trio who were fighting with Ukrainian forces were accused of being "mercenaries."
  • UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called the sentencing a "sham judgment" on Thursday.

Two British citizens and a Moroccan national who were reportedly fighting on behalf of Ukraine were sentenced to death on Thursday by a court in a Russian-occupied part of Ukraine, according to multiple reports. 

A court in the Donetsk People's Republic — a Moscow-backed separatist-controlled region in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region — accused Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner, and Brahim Saadoun of being "mercenaries," Russian state news agency TASS reported

State media claimed the trio pleaded guilty to all charges.

According to the TASS report, the region's Supreme Court claimed the three men were "participating in hostilities" alongside Ukrainian forces. 

The three men were captured by Russian troops in the southern port city of Mariupol in April, CNN reported, after they joined Ukraine's military as foreign fighters — a practice that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has encouraged throughout the 15-week-long war. 

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called the sentencing a "sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy," as the court in the so-called Donetsk People's Republic has no international recognition

"I utterly condemn the sentencing of Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner held by Russian proxies in eastern Ukraine," she wrote on Twitter. "My thoughts are with the families. We continue to do everything we can to support them."

Truss said the men are prisoners of war — a status that would grant them certain protections under the Geneva Convention.

In mid-April, Russian state TV aired footage of Aslin and Pinner, asking the UK to negotiate a prisoner swap for Viktor Medvedchuk — an ally of President Vladimir Putin who was captured by Ukrainian forces. Another state TV report showed Aslin bloodied and bruised in captivity. 

Since the early days of the war, Russia and Ukraine have routinely spoken publicly about the soldiers they each captured and held as prisoners from the other side.  

Last month, Ukraine sentenced a captured Russian soldier to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to killing a civilian in the country's northeast Sumy region.

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