Brahim Saadoun (standing) and his British co-defendants during their trial at the Supreme Court of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Ukraine, June 8, 2022. SUPREME COURT OF THE PEOPLE OF DONETSK’/VIA REUTERS
On Tuesday, June 14, Moroccan NGOs urged the authorities in Rabat to intervene to “save” a young Moroccan, Brahim Saadoun, who was sentenced to death along with two Britons for “mercenary work” in Ukraine, where he fought for Kyiv against Russian forces.
“The most important thing now is to protect young Brahim Saadoun, as a Moroccan citizen, from the risk of execution, which requires urgent action by the Moroccan authorities,” Amina Bouayach, president of the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH), said in an official statement. “The council is closely following the details and developments of the case,” Bouayach told local news site Madar21.
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For its part, the Moroccan Collective Against the Death Penalty, in a press release, called on the authorities “to intervene urgently to save the life of the Moroccan citizen and to demand that the death penalty not be carried out”. This collective, which brings together several Moroccan associations for the defense of human rights, called on the government to “guarantee the return [de Brahim Saadoun] safe or that he can travel to the country of his choice”.
“Die a Hero”
Brahim Saadoun, 21, was sentenced to death along with two Brits on June 9 by the Supreme Court of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, a pro-Russian separatist region, for “taking part in the fighting as a mercenary”. According to his father Taher Saadoun, the young man, who received Ukrainian citizenship in 2020, is “not a mercenary” and “a victim of manipulation”. According to a friend of the young Moroccan, Dmytro Khrabstov, 20, Brahim, known as “Brian” to his friends in Ukraine, joined the Ukrainian army last summer and told them he wanted to “die a hero”.
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The Moroccan government remained silent through its embassy in Ukraine until Monday evening, stating only that Mr Saadoun “was captured in the uniform of the Ukrainian State Army as a member of a unit of the Ukrainian Navy” and that he “is currently being detained by an organization which is not recognized by either the United Nations or Morocco”, with no further comment.
Morocco has taken a neutral position in the war between Russia and Ukraine at the UN. This neutrality demonstrates Rabat’s desire not to alienate Russia, a member of the UN Security Council, over the disputed territory of Western Sahara, a priority of Moroccan diplomacy.
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