Death sentence for foreign soldiers in Donetsk

A court in the self-proclaimed separatist Donetsk People's Republic DPR has handed down death sentences to two British and one Moroccan citizen who fought on the Ukrainian side. The British government and many countries in Europe have sharply criticised the judgment, saying it violates the law of war. Commentators are equally outraged - and concerned.

Open/close all quotes
The Times (GB) /

Right to a fair trial ignored

This was an illegal show trial, says The Times:

“The charges against them appear to have consisted entirely in their fighting as part of Ukrainian forces. Even if war crimes had formed part of the indictment, the men would still be entitled to a fair trial, which the illegitimate entity of Donetsk demonstrably does not provide for. It is urgent that an international campaign be mounted to ensure that these men live. The appeal should not be couched in the language of mercy or clemency, because the entire judicial process that has convicted them is bogus. The men should not have been tried in the first place.”

The Independent (GB) /

Foreigners as targets

This sentence is only the beginning, The Independent fears:

“It means any foreigner in Ukraine is at risk of this. Even those who are not combatants. It is clear that the DNR wants to use the cases to pressure and embarrass the UK government for supporting Ukraine's war efforts. But it also likely wants to use the men as leverage in key moments of negotiations, such as prisoner swaps. Having several foreign nationals in their prisons gives them a serious and worrying power. The concern is they will actively seek out foreigners in the future ... It also potentially sets countries like the UK in a direct conflict with Russia, who no doubt ordered or at least sanctioned the trial. This could cause myriad more problems in the future.”