'No grounds' to pardon Britons, Moroccan sentenced to death in Donetsk

STORY: A court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic on Thursday found Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun guilty of "mercenary activities" seeking to overthrow the republic.

Britain says Aslin and Pinner were regular soldiers and should be exempt under the Geneva Conventions from prosecution for participation in hostilities.

The pro-Russian separatists who control Donetsk say they committed grave crimes and have a month to appeal.

Donetsk and Luhansk are two breakaway Russian-backed entities in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, which Russia says it is fighting to remove entirely from Kyiv's control.

Three days before launching its "special military operation" in Ukraine on February 24, President Vladimir Putin recognized them as independent states, a move condemned by Ukraine and the West as illegal.

Aslin's family said he and Pinner "are not, and never were, mercenaries."

They were living in Ukraine when war broke out and "as members of Ukrainian armed forces, should be treated with respect just like any other prisoners of war," the family said in a statement.

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