The grandmother of Aiden Aslin has said the captured Brit was in a distressed state calling home to tell them he would die soon, following a death sentence in a Russian court.
Aslin, 28, has been held by pro-Russian forces since April, when he was forced to surrender along with his Ukrainian marine counterparts after weeks of shelling in the port city.
He and Shaun Pinner, two British nationals that moved to Ukraine in 2018 and have served in the country’s armed forces for four years, have been kept in detention ever since, and were recently paraded in a proxy court in the Donetsk People’s Republic – facing ‘war crimes’.
Both Aslin and Pinner, along with Moroccan national Saadun Brahim, were sentenced to death earlier in June at an internationally unrecognised court in an internationally unrecognised state – but as yet no action has been taken against the controversial verdict.
Since the verdict, Aiden Aslin has been given the opportunity to call his parents back in Newark, Nottinghamshire, and he was apparently in a ‘distressed state’ as those who are keeping him captive told him his ‘time was running out’.
His grandmother Pamela Hall spoke to the BBC about Aiden’s phone call with his mum, describing it as “very distressing”.
She said: “She [Aiden’s mum] was very upset by it, much like we all are. I’m sure his captors have made him make a phone call, but Aiden believed what they have told him.”
There are now genuine fears that this death penalty for Aslin, Pinner and Brahim will go ahead, with claims that there’s been no word from the UK government on contact reached to save the trio.
A protest is being held in Nottingham near Aiden’s hometown of Newark on Saturday to try and raise awareness of the issue and demand his release from the Donetsk People’s Republic.
Despite Foreign Secretary Liz Truss meeting her Ukrainian counterpart to discuss Aiden Aslin’s case in recent weeks, it would not appear that the UK are any closer to negotiating a safe release for him or his two fellow prisoners of war.
In line with the Geneva Convention, the government are asking for the men to be treated as prisoners of war and not mercenaries, but Russian state-affiliated media still suggests that all three come under the category of the latter.
Pamela also had a message for Russian president Vladimir Putin: “I do believe he has the power to stop this. From the bottom of my heart I plead, please, let these guys go.”