Ukraine War

Russian soldier sentenced by Ukrainian court in first war crimes trial since the invasion

Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin, 21, suspected of violations of the laws and norms of war, stands inside a cage during a court hearing, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv on May 23. VIACHESLAV RATYNSKYI/REUTERS

On Monday, a Ukrainian court sentenced a Russian soldier to life in jail for murdering an unarmed civilian in the first trial for war crimes stemming from Russia's invasion.

Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old tank commander, admitted to killing Oleksandr Shelipov, 62, in the village of Chupakhivka, northeastern Ukraine, on February 28, four days after the invasion.

Judge Serhiy Agafonov stated that Shishimarin, acting out a "criminal order" from a soldier of higher rank, had fired multiple automatic weapon shots at the victim's head.

"Given that the crime committed is a crime against peace, security, humanity, and the international legal order," he stated, "the court cannot impose a (less severe) sentence."

Shishimarin, wearing a blue and grey hooded sweatshirt, sat in a reinforced glass box in the courtroom and listened to the judgment being read without expressing any emotion. He listened with his head lowered to a translator.

Shishmarin's attorney, Viktor Ovsyannikov, stated that he was not surprised by the sentence because of "certain societal pressure" and would file an appeal.

An international attorney told Reuters that the trial, which began barely a week ago, could be the first of many.

Kyiv has accused Russia of committing atrocities and brutality against people during the invasion, claiming that it has documented over 10,000 potential war crimes. Russia has denied targeting civilians or committing war crimes in Ukraine, where it conducts a "special military operation."

The Kremlin did not comment on the verdict immediately. It has previously stated that it has no knowledge of the trial and that its capacity to provide help is limited by the absence of a diplomatic mission in Ukraine.

According to Ukrainian state prosecutors, after their column was targeted by Ukrainian forces, Shishimarin and four other Russian service members stole a car to flee.

After entering Chupakhivka, the soldiers observed Shelipov riding a bicycle while conversing on the phone. According to the authorities, Shishimarin was told to murder Shelipov to prevent him from disclosing their location.

Shishimarin admitted his guilt in court last week and sought the victim's widow for forgiveness.

The court's ruling was obtained five days after the initial hearing.

Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association, stated that the conviction was "not surprising" and may represent the first piece in a "large puzzle" involving Ukrainian soldiers jailed in Russia.

"If this is the initial test, the bar is set very high," he remarked. Because this is the baseline trial for war crimes in Ukraine, I anticipate that comparable sentences will be imposed in most subsequent instances.

Publish : 2022-05-23 20:21:00

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