Tuesday 28 June 2022
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Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin pleads guilty in 1st Ukraine war crimes trial

The prosecution alleged that Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin and his unit saw a man walking on the sidewalk and talking on his phone and shot him down

Cornered in a hostile pro-Nato Ukrainian courtroom, Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old Russian soldier, on 18 May pleaded guilty to killing an unarmed civilian as Ukraine has started its first war crimes trial since the beginning of Moscow’s invasion. Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova previously said her office was preparing war crimes cases against 41 Russian soldiers for offences that included bombing civilian infrastructure, killing civilians, rape and looting.

Shishimarin, a captured member of a Russian tank unit, is being prosecuted under a section of the Ukrainian criminal code that addresses the laws and customs of war.

However, it was not immediately clear how many of the suspects are in Ukrainian hands and how many would be tried.

Prosecutor Andriy Sinyuk told reporters after today’s hearing that two witnesses, including one of the Russian soldiers who were with Shishimarin at the time of the incident, will be brought to testify in court.

The trial comes even as Russia claimed that as many as 959 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol.

Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin

The Russian soldier is from Irkutsk in Siberia. He has confessed to gunning down the 62-year-old man near the central village of Chupakhivka to prevent him from reporting a carjacking by fleeing Russian troops. If found guilty, Shishimarin could be sent to jail for life for war crimes and premeditated murder.

“By this first trial, we are sending a clear signal that every perpetrator, every person who ordered or assisted in the commission of crimes in Ukraine shall not avoid responsibility,” Venediktova tweeted.

Shishimarin’s trial opened Friday when he made a brief court appearance while lawyers and judges discussed procedural matters.

What happened on 28 February

On 28 February, Shishimarin and other Russian soldiers fled Ukrainian forces, according to Venediktova’s Facebook account. The Russians allegedly fired at a private car and seized the vehicle, then drove to Chupakhivka, a village more than 321 km east of Kyiv.

On the way, the prosecutor-general alleged, the Russian soldiers saw a man walking on the sidewalk and talking on his phone. Shyshimarin was ordered to kill the man to prevent the stranger from reporting them to Ukrainian military authorities.

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