Hogan Lovells Pro Bono team brings war crimes claims against the Russian Federation
11 October 2023 – Two British citizens, who were captured by Russian-backed forces in April 2022 while fighting for the Armed Forces of Ukraine and Ukraine Marines in Mariupol, are due to have a full hearing of their cases heard by a Ukrainian Court, with the first substantial hearing taking place on 20 December.
Hogan Lovells, working with Ukrainian law firm Robinson Patman, Fountain Court Chambers and Matrix Chambers, is seeking compensation for war crimes committed by the Russian Federation against Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin. Both were sentenced to death by the so-called ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’, a Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory. While in detention they were exposed to highly unsanitary conditions and severe mistreatment which was in breach of the Geneva Conventions, that offers protection to prisoners of war.
In July 2022, the Hogan Lovells team made an application to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on behalf of Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin on a pro bono basis. The team were successful in securing interim measures to protect the soldiers following the imposition of the death sentences. After working over an intense 48 hours, an order under Rule 39 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) Rules of Court was granted. The ECtHR required the Russian Federation to ensure that the death penalty imposed on the two men was not carried out; to ensure appropriate conditions for detention; and to provide the detainees with any necessary medical assistance and medication.
Shaun Pinner, a former soldier in the British Army, joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces as a contracted fighter in 2018 and fought during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. His case will consider the torture he suffered, which included electric shocks, stabbing and extreme starvation. He was also forced to sing the Russian National Anthem on a daily basis.
Aiden Aslin, a British national, was also captured and tortured by the DPR. He and Shaun were eventually released as part of a prisoner exchange agreement. Five months after their capture, the two men returned to the UK and in December 2022 they were awarded the state ‘Order of Courage, 3rd Degree’ in a decree by President Zelensky for ‘selfless acts in the defence of sovereignty of Ukraine’.
Michael Davison, Partner said: “It is important that we take this action to ensure accountability for what amounts to torture and inhumane and degrading treatment by the Russian Federation and violations of Treaty protections for enlisted service personnel who were denied their fundamental rights.”
Tetyana Nesterchuk, Counsel, Fountain Court Chambers, said: “We are expecting the clients rights to be vindicated and that Russia will comply with the judgment. In the event it does not do so, we shall seek compliance through enforcement of the judgment in the English Courts.”