Save Brahim: Kyiv clubbing community appeals for release of captured soldier
Moroccan Brahim Saadoune is facing the death penalty alongside British nationals Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner
The Kyiv clubbing community is appealing for the release of a regular fixture on its dancefloors, Brahim Saadoune, who has been captured by Russian forces and is facing the death penalty.
The 21-year-old Moroccan man is accused of being a mercenary alongside two British nationals, 28-year-old Aiden Aslin and 48-year-old Shaun Pinner, despite friends and family saying they are long-standing members of the Ukrainian army and not volunteers or mercenaries.
Footage has been released online of the three men behind bars having charges read to them at a court in the Russian-held so-called Donetsk People's Republic.
In #Donetsk, the "trial" against #British citizens Sean Piner and Andrew Hill, as well as #Moroccan Brahim Saadoun began. They are accused of "mercenarism and committing crimes aimed at the forcible seizure and retention of power".— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) June 8, 2022
📰Vladimir Soloviev pic.twitter.com/K0p6uHjJfG
Aslin and Pinner are said to have lived in Ukraine since 2018 and been long-serving members of the Ukrainian army.
Saadoune moved to Ukraine in 2019, initially to study, however he reportedly dropped out of education and signed a three-year contract with the Armed Forces of Ukraine in 2021.
Lawful members of the military should be protected by combatant immunity, in accordance with the Geneva convention.
The court in so-called DPR is not internationally recognised, and there are fears each man could be condemned to the death penalty.
In the footage posted online, each man is filmed saying they recognise the charges against them and are happy for the case to proceed without evidence from witnesses.
Russia recognised the Donetsk and Donbas regions of eastern Ukraine as independent states before launching its invasion in February, in a movement condemned by Ukraine and the West as illegal.
All three men were captured in April while fighting for Ukraine in the city of Mariupol.
British officials have made comments indicating they are working to protect Aslin and Pinnner.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab told LBC radio: "I don't know all the details, but of course we would expect the laws of armed conflict to be respected, and we will make sure that we will make all the representations.
"I know the Foreign Office will be looking at making sure all those representations are made."
Britain's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has condemned actions that it is labelling as the exploitation of prisoners of war for political purposes.
A spokesperson said: "They are entitled to combatant immunity and should not be prosecuted for participation in hostilities."
Family members of Aslin released a statement noting: "We are currently working with the Ukrainian government and the Foreign Office to try and bring Aiden home. Aiden is a much-loved man and very much missed, and we hope that he will be released very soon."
The Moroccan foreign ministry has not yet commented on the case of Brahim Saadoune.
Members of the Kyiv clubbing community, who dance with him regularly at clubs such as ∄, are additionally calling for Brahim's protection to be assured.
He is expected to be sentenced today.