Ukraine war: Moroccan’s death sentence being ignored, sister says

The Moroccan man who has been sentenced to death in Ukraine has his plight largely ignored, his sister says.

Brahim Saaudan, 21, and two Britons were captured fighting with the Ukrainian army and tried as mercenaries by a Russian proxy court.

The British and Ukrainian governments have condemned the trial but Morocco is yet to comment.

Iman Saaudun told the BBC he had been “left aside” as attention focused on the other men.

“At first, when they captured all of them, then it was like different news about every person,” she told the BBC.

“There wasn’t much attention on my brother… Maybe it’s because of my government, they are not doing much about it, they are literally silent.”

The BBC has contacted the Moroccan government for a response.

Mr Saaudan moved to Ukraine to study before joining the Ukrainian military. His father told Moroccan media outlet Madar21 that his son was a student when Russia launched its invasion.

Brahim, left, and his friend Dmytro

Brahim (L) moved to Ukraine to study and his friends in Kyiv are campaigning for his release

After his capture alongside Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner all three were tried by a proxy court in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, a pro-Russian breakaway region in eastern Ukraine.

The men’s lawyer said they all wished to appeal against the sentence, Russia’s Tass news agency reported.

The court is not recognised internationally, but Russia’s foreign minister has defended the death sentences it gave the men.

Iman said she feared that her brother did not know that people were trying to help him.

“I just want to tell him you’re loved. I just want to tell him, like, things will be OK. Don’t be scared. He’s my little brother. That’s what a big sister should do, but I could not do that. I cannot do that,” she said.

Brahim's sister

Iman has not been able to speak to her brother since his capture

Friends are now campaigning for his release and posting under the hashtag #SaveBrahim.

“Everyone is heartbroken,” Dasha Oleynik, a close friend of Mr Saaudan, told the Guardian newspaper.

“I wish he knew how much support he actually has… how many people care, how many people write about it, how many people post about it.”

Iman hailed his friends’ efforts.

“Your government let you down. Your own people let you down, but others did not and they will find their best for you”.

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