Moroccan sentenced to death in Donetsk has Ukrainian nationality and isn't a mercenary, father says

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June 13 (Reuters) - The father of a Moroccan man sentenced to death by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) on mercenary charges said his son should be treated as a prisoner of war as he is a Ukrainian national who handed himself in voluntarily.

Morocco-born Brahim Saadoun and Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner were found guilty of "mercenary activities and committing actions aimed at seizing power and overthrowing the constitutional order" of the DPR, Russian media said last week.

The three men were captured while fighting for Ukraine against Russia and Russian-backed forces. read more

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The Moroccan fighter received Ukrainian nationality in 2020 after undergoing a year of military training as a requirement to access aerospace technology studies at a university in Kiev, his father Tahar Saadoun said in an email to Reuters.

He handed himself in "voluntarily" and should be treated as a "prisoner of war", the father said.

A still image, taken from footage of the Supreme Court of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, shows Britons Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun captured by Russian forces during a military conflict in Ukraine, in a courtroom cage at a location given as Donetsk, Ukraine, in a still image from a video released June 8, 2022. Video taken June 8, 2022. Supreme Court of Donetsk People's Republic/Handout via REUTERS

The sentence will be appealed, he said.

"We as a family suffer from the absence of contact with the lawyer to exchange legal information and this adds to our ordeal," he said.

A Moroccan diplomatic source in Kyiv said Saadoun had been jailed by "an entity that is neither recognized by Morocco nor by the UN."

Saadoun "was captured in the uniform of the Ukrainian army" which he willingly chose, the source said.

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Morocco's foreign ministry said it supported "the territorial integrity and national unity of all UN member states."

Morocco has not openly condemned the Russian invasion and has not attended the two votes against Russia at the UN. But it said it rejected the use of force in inter-state disputes and called for dialogue.

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Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Toby Chopra

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