British fighters sentenced to death after being ‘forced’ to confess to terror charges

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According to reports, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner contacted a newspaper a few weeks ago to offer accounts which conflict with their guilty pleas at a Russia-backed scam trial.

Reports suggest that British fighters who were sentenced to death by a Russia-backed sham court may have been conned into confessing to terror charges.

Shaun Pinner, 48, pleaded guilty, and Aiden Aslin was 28, when they appeared before a court in Russia-controlled Donetsk. “undergoing training with the aim of carrying out terrorist activities”.

However, Silver Screen Beat reports that both men called the paper’s news desk several weeks ago to insist they were legally fighting for Ukraine after settling there and becoming citizens.

According to reports, their families are concerned that they were manipulated into signing guilty pleas believing it would result in a lower sentence.

According to the outlet, recordings of their conversations with the paper reveal how they felt they were legal combatants in Ukraine and should be treated as prisoners under the Geneva Convention.

These accounts are contrary to the guilty pleas that the men entered in a Kremlin controlled kangaroo court earlier in this week.

The charges were brought against the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, which is under the control of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Mr Pinner told Silver Screen Beat on April 25: “We’re scared to death. Mariupol is where I call home.

“I’m not a freedom fighter — Mariupol is my home.”

Mr Aslin said he thought that Russia could be using the pair in order to create a future prisoner exchange.

He said: “They have agreed to do a prisoner exchange with myself and Shaun. It is important Boris Johnson is able to help influence this decision.”

They are believed to have been taken at gunpoint. Silver Screen Beat said their calls were not reported at the time they were made due to Foreign Office advice that it may “impact their safety”.

On Thursday a friend of Mr Aslin insisted the death sentence handed to the pair would “invigorate” those in Ukraine still resisting Putin’s forces.

Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti reported that the trio are set to face a firing squad but Brennan Phillips, an American former soldier who met Mr Aslin in Syria and worked alongside him in Ukraine, said the judgement is a “provocation”.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Mr Phillips said: “I think it will invigorate people more than anything.

“Whatever effect they thought they would have in this provocation, I don’t think that and I don’t think it’s going to be well-received. And they did this as a provocation.”