Thursday, 11th August 2022
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Europe court urges Russia to stop executions of two Britons

The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday told Russia to prevent the execution of two British citizens sentenced to death in a pro-Moscow separatist region of Ukraine. Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin were earlier this month sentenced to death by a court in the unrecognised Donetsk People's Republic, following their surrender to Russian forces…

The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday told Russia to prevent the execution of two British citizens sentenced to death in a pro-Moscow separatist region of Ukraine.

Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin were earlier this month sentenced to death by a court in the unrecognised Donetsk People’s Republic, following their surrender to Russian forces in the conflict sparked by Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour.

Both men, residents of Ukraine with Ukrainian partners, had joined the Ukrainian armed forces in 2018 and been deployed to Mariupol which was then besieged by Russian forces.

Russia must “ensure that the death penalty imposed on the applicants was not carried out,” the court said in an emergency ruling after applications made on behalf of Pinner and Aslin on June 27.

It stressed that Russia had an obligation over their situation due to the status of the region and should also “ensure appropriate conditions of their detention and provide them with any necessary medical assistance and medication”.

The ECHR also noted the pair had “voluntarily laid down their arms and surrendered to the Russian forces in Mariupol”.

The ruling issued by Europe’s rights court is an urgent interim measure, provided on an exceptional basis, when the applicants would otherwise “face a real risk of irreversible harm”, it emphasised.

The ECHR had on June 16 issued a similar ruling urging Russia to stop the execution of Brahim Saadun, a Moroccan citizen born in 2000 who was sentenced to death along with two British men.

The urgent interim measure is the same format used by the ECHR earlier this month when it triggered the cancellation of the first deportation flight of asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda, angering London.

That move has sparked debate within the British government about whether Britain should continue to implement ECHR rulings.

The ECHR is part of the Council of Europe, which ejected Russia from its membership in mid-March following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia simultaneously also took steps to leave the body.

The court insists it can issue verdicts concerning Russia although the Russian parliament has adopted legislation insisting it should no longer adhere to ECHR rulings.

According to his spokesman, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “appalled” at death sentences handed to the two Britons.