Morocco's national human rights body has urged Russian authorities to guarantee a “fair trial” for a young national appealing a death sentence imposed by a pro-Russian court in Ukraine.
Brahim Saadoun, a Moroccan citizen born in 2000, was sentenced to death on June 9 along with two British men by a court in Donetsk, a self-proclaimed statelet in eastern Ukraine.
The trio have been accused of acting as mercenaries for Ukraine following Russia's invasion of its neighbour.
Amina Bouayach, president of the National Council of Human Rights (CNDH), has contacted the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation, a source from the Moroccan rights council told AFP on Sunday.
She has urged the Russian body to take “the necessary steps to ensure Brahim Saadoun receives a fair trial during his appeal,” the source said.
Taher Saadoun, father of the accused, has said his son, who obtained Ukrainian citizenship in 2020, “is not a mercenary,” calling him instead a “victim of manipulation.”
But Dmytro Khrabstov, 20, a friend of Saadoun, has said the Moroccan joined the Ukrainian military last year, telling friends he wanted to “die as a hero.”
The Moroccan government had not responded until last Monday, saying through its embassy in Ukraine that Saadoun “was captured while wearing the uniform of the army of the state of Ukraine, as a member of the Ukrainian marine unit.”
It said he was “currently imprisoned by an entity that is recognized by neither the United Nations nor Morocco,” without commenting further.
Morocco has taken a position of neutrality at the United Nations on the war in Ukraine.
The move reflects Rabat's desire to avoid alienating Russia, a member of the UN Security Council, on the question of the disputed Western Sahara, a key Moroccan diplomatic priority.
Morocco controls 80 percent of the disputed former Spanish colony and insists the territory must remain under its sovereignty, while the Algeria-backed Polisario Front movement seeks independence.