Brahim Saadoun case: His lawyer testifies

After Brahim Saadoun’s father sent a message directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin so that his son would not be sentenced to death by pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists, the 21-year-old student’s lawyer gave more details on the case in an interview.

Brahim Saadoun is part of a group of 3 foreigners captured by Donestsk separatists. He was sentenced to death on June 9 alongside two British nationals, Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner.

He is accused of having fought with the Ukrainian army as a “mercenary” by a court of the pro-Russian republic of Donetsk, the DNR. The young Moroccan student had joined the Ukrainian army for military service.

In a few days, his court-appointed lawyer must appeal the decision of the Donetsk court. She will challenge the sentence awarded to her in three languages, Russian, English and French.

In an interview with RFI, she recounts her meetings with Brahim Saadoun, whom she met 5 times, including one where she accompanied him to the places where he was arrested, to reconstruct the facts.

Elena Nikolaevna Vesnina, describes a quiet young man, uneventful, docile and who does not understand the magnitude or the horror of what threatens him. Shocked, the young Moroccan would also be hungry, according to the testimony of his lawyer.

The student’s father had written a letter to the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in which he asked him to pardon his son who was supposedly trained in the Ukrainian army underhandedly. He believes that his son went to Ukraine to study and for nothing more than that, and that he was manipulated. This is also the impression of his lawyer.

In addition, he said he was worried about his son’s state of health, seeing his photos, he noticed his weight loss and explained that Brahim suffers from anemia.

Brahim is currently in Makeevka, penal colony number 97. He “behaving normally. There is no problem, no conflict with him. We immediately found a common language. He comes from another civilization and arrived in a completely unknown world. And, probably, in this unknown, he wanted to try everything, to live an adventure”, according to his lawyer.

She reveals that he doesn’t realize what is happening, and that his reactions reflect that he has been the victim of manipulation due to his young age.

“I was with him, he had no reaction to the verdict. It seems to me that he does not understand what is happening due to his young age, he is 21 years old. How to explain to you? My personal opinion is that he doesn’t realize the horror of the situation.”said Elena Nikolaevna Vesnina.

And it’s not the language problem that prevents him from understanding. Young Brahim speaks Russian very well, but to be sure that he masters all the elements, a French interpreter has been made available.

“When I first met him, he asked me: ‘Is this the DNR? with wide, wide eyes. I said to him, “But what, what did you think was here? » And he answered me: “I thought everyone here was wearing balaclavas and carrying machine guns.” In other words, I think it was propaganda that led him to these kinds of “exploits”. My personal impression is that he was recruited”she told RFI.

Brahim Saadoun declares that he did not fight. Deployed as a member of the Ukrainian marines, he went to Mariupol with the soldiers entrenched in the other emblematic factory of the city, the Illich factory, and therefore not the one where the fighting took place.

“We went to Mariupol, he showed where they had been hiding. The soldiers at the Ilyich plant in Mariupol all surrendered on their own. He is not the only one. There were a lot of people there “said the lawyer.

And to add that she had to feed him “all day, he was hungry all the time”. His family remains very worried, the mother of the young Moroccan is in shock and is hysterical at the idea that her son will be killed. In DNR, the death penalty is applied by firing squad.

The lawyer believes that there is however a small change in changing Brahim’s sentence, even if the leader of the pro-Russian separatist republic has warned that the condemned will not be pardoned.

“In my opinion, still, there is a maybe a chance to change his sentence. I think he’s just young, so he didn’t understand what he was doing at all. That’s what I explained to his father. What will the court think? It’s up to him to decide.”she said, adding that the next step if the court grants her the sentence modification, it will be to “ask for grace, but that will be the last step. Our legislation does not provide for other options. It’s the last “.


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