In the case of Brahim Saadun, who was sentenced to death in the so-called People’s Republic of Donetsk, his sister complained about a lack of commitment and empathy in her home country. “He’s really being scammed,” Iman Saadun told the British Guardian. Accordingly, she unsuccessfully asked several Moroccan authorities, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for help. Because her country does not demand him, she is now asking “that someone come and take my brother in”.

Saadun, 21, is one of three foreign men sentenced to death by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine on June 9. The supreme court of the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic” describes him and the two Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner as foreign fighters, thereby justifying the harshness of the verdict. In addition, the court claims that the defendants “admitted their guilt”.

The families and friends of the convicts each deny the allegation of mercenary activity. Saadun’s father told Reuters that his son has had Ukrainian citizenship since 2020. Accordingly, after studying in Kyiv, he voluntarily joined the Ukrainian army. His sister has now explained that Saadun’s desire to become an aerospace engineer drew him to Ukraine.

According to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the native Moroccan came to Kyiv in 2019 to study. In mid-June this year, the Council of Europe authority demanded that Russia prevent Saadun’s execution. According to an urgent decision by the Strasbourg-based court, Moscow should ensure that the death penalty “is not carried out”. It thus complied with a petition that a legal representative of the Moroccan had submitted to the ECtHR.

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According to friends and government officials, Saadun had been stationed in Mariupol as a member of a naval unit since November 2021 and was captured by pro-Russian separatists in April.

The Moroccan government has so far acted cautiously in this case. The embassy in Kyiv said last week that Saadun was being detained by “an organization that is not recognized by either Morocco or the UN.” He wore the uniform of the Ukrainian State Army, which he chose himself. So far, Morocco has neither condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine nor participated in the two votes against Russia at the United Nations.

Saadun’s sister Iman also criticized the lack of empathy for her brother, who was sentenced to death, in Moroccan society. “The majority are celebrating that he’s going to die,” she claims. Accordingly, numerous posts in social networks in their home country were directed against Saadun. Meanwhile, numerous people from Ukraine are showing solidarity with the 21-year-old under the hashtag