• Brahmin said he fought for Ukraine for a month and a half before being captured 
  • The 21-year-old said he was ready for everything and knew he could be shot 
  • Brahmin's father Tahar said the student received Ukrainian citizenship in 2020

Brahim Saadoun, the young Moroccan man sentenced to death by a Kremlin-backed court in Ukraine's eastern region of Donetsk, has revealed that he surrendered to Russian troops because he wanted to give himself a second chance.

Brahim was sentenced last week along with British citizens Sean Pinner and Aiden Aslin, with all three facing the charges of war crimes and terrorism. The 21-year-old was a student at the Faculty of Aerodynamic and Space Technologies at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute (KPI) when the war in Ukraine broke out.

"I wanted to live and see again the people I love," Brahim told the Arabic version of the Russian media RT when he sat for an interview. The three-minute interview was aired a day after he was sentenced, though it is unclear when it was recorded.

Terming the treatment he received at the Russian prison as very humane, he also described the guards as "very professional," reported Morocco World News.

The Moroccan national said he was "ready for everything" when he surrendered, despite "not knowing what is going to happen." "I didn't know how it would turn out, maybe I would be shot, maybe I would die, but I wanted to give myself a second chance," he told the interviewer.

Brahim added that he fought for the Ukrainian army on the front line for a month and a half and received a salary equivalent to $1,070. But, he ended up being captured by pro-Russian forces within a month of the war.

"For those willing to come to Ukraine and join the army for their extremism, this place is not for you. If you join, you will harm your own country too," Saadoun said.

Meanwhile, Brahim’s father has rejected the Russian claims that he was a mercenary, saying his son had Ukrainian citizenship. Brahim's father Tahar Saaudun told Reuters that Brahim had received Ukrainian citizenship in 2020 after undergoing a year of military training as a requirement to study aerospace technology at a university in Kyiv.

Tahar said he surrendered "voluntarily" and should be treated as a "prisoner of war." Promising to appeal the sentence, Tahar said the family was suffering from the "absence of contact with the lawyer to exchange legal information."

Brahim's friends too have called on the U.K to help him. Zina Kotenko, a Ukrainian refugee living in the U.K., told Sky News in a video interview that Brahim was a "kind, open-minded, and joyful person". Another friend of Brahim said he joined the Ukrainian army last summer and told them he wanted to "die a hero". "He is a bright and enthusiastic guy, dreaming about the technology of the future and how he could change things," the friend said.

A Ukrainian soldier sits on an armoured vehicle moving towards the front line in the city of Lysychansk
Representation. A Ukrainian soldier sits on an armoured vehicle. AFP / ARIS MESSINIS