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Moroccan man sentenced in Ukraine: Rabat calls on Moscow to ensure a "fair" appeal

Moroccan man sentenced in Ukraine: Rabat calls on Moscow to ensure a "fair" appeal
FILE- Fighters from the territorial defence unit at an exercise for regular combat tactics ....   -  
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The National Council for Human Rights (CNDH), an official body in Morocco, has called on the Russian authorities to ensure a "fair trial" on the appeal of a young Moroccan sentenced to death by pro-Russian separatists for fighting with the Ukrainian army, it said on Sunday.

Brahim Saadoun, 21, was sentenced to death on 9 June -- along with two Britons -- by the supreme court of the pro-Russian separatist Donetsk People's Republic for "taking part in the fighting as mercenaries".

The president of the CNDH, Amina Bouayach, had contacted the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Russia so that it "undertakes the necessary steps to ensure that Brahim Saadoun receives a fair trial during his appeal," a source from the Moroccan organisation told AFP.

The Russian High Commissioner for Human Rights is chaired by Kremlin delegate Tatyana Moskalkova, a former general in the Russian Interior Ministry appointed in 2016 by President Vladimir Putin.

The delegate for human rights is responsible for monitoring respect for human rights in Russia and reports to President Putin.

On Tuesday, Moroccan NGOs called on the authorities in Rabat to intervene to "save" Brahim Saadoun as a "Moroccan citizen".

According to his father, Taher Saadoun, the young man, who obtained Ukrainian citizenship in 2020, "is not a mercenary" and has been "a victim of manipulation".

However, according to a friend of the young Moroccan, Dmytro Khrabstov, 20, Brahim, known by his friends in Ukraine as "Brian", joined the Ukrainian army last summer and had told them he wanted to "die a hero's death".

Silent until Monday evening, the Moroccan government reacted through its embassy in Ukraine, stating only that Mr Saadoun "was captured wearing the uniform of the Ukrainian state army, as a member of a Ukrainian navy unit" and that he "is currently imprisoned by an entity that is recognised neither by the United Nations nor by Morocco", without further comment.

This neutrality shows Rabat's will not to alienate Russia, a member of the UN Security Council, on the issue of the disputed territory of Western Sahara, a priority of Moroccan diplomacy.

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