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Ukraine Begins First War Crimes Trial For Russian Soldier Accused Of Killing Unarmed Civilian

Topline Ukraine on Friday held a preliminary hearing of a case against a 21-year-old Russian soldier accused of killing an unarmed 62-year-old Ukrainian man, potentially the first of many trials as authorities forge ahead with efforts to investigate what they say are thousands of potential war crimes committed by Russian troops during the country’s invasion…

Topline

Ukraine on Friday held a preliminary hearing of a case against a 21-year-old Russian soldier accused of killing an unarmed 62-year-old Ukrainian man, potentially the first of many trials as authorities forge ahead with efforts to investigate what they say are thousands of potential war crimes committed by Russian troops during the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin is seen behind a glass during a court hearing in Kyiv, … [+] Ukraine.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Key Facts

Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin–who is accused of killing an unarmed Ukrainian resident in the Sumy region of northeastern Ukraine on February 28–confirmed his identity and appeared in a small glass booth on Friday during his preliminary hearing, according to the Associated Press.

Shishimarin, who is charged with violating the laws and customs of war, could face up to 10 to 15 years or life in prison for allegedly killing the Ukrainian man after shooting him in the head with a rifle from an open window of a car.

The 62-year-old civilian, who was pushing a bicycle by the side of the road, died on the spot after being shot, according to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova.

State Prosecutor Andriy Synuk on Friday said there was enough evidence to convict Shishimarin and told reporters there would be “a lot” more cases to come.

Key Background

According to AP,

Shishimarin belonged to a Ukrainian tank unit that was captured by Ukrainian forces. In a statement before the hearing, Vendiktova’s office said the 21-year-old soldier and four other Russian troops stole a car in an attempt to escape after Ukrainian forces targeted their column. The five soldiers drove into the village of Chupakhiva, where they allegedly ordered Shishimarin to kill the 62-year-old resident, who was speaking on the phone and walking his bike, to stop him from notifying Ukrainian forces of their presence. The trial comes a month after Venediktova said she had filed charges against 10 soldiers from the 64th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, a Russian army unit the government alleges was involved in the torture of civilians in Bucha. These were the first war crimes charges that the country has brought against a Russian army unit since hundreds of bodies were found in the Kyiv suburb.

What to Watch for

More war crimes trials. Venediktova told the Wall Street Journal last week her office had already identified about 40 Russian soldiers suspected of war crimes, a few of whom are already in custody. The International Criminal Court is also investigating thousands of war crimes allegedly committed by Russian troops. Amnesty International last week said it had documented “compelling evidence” Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine.

Further Reading

Ukraine to Try Russian Soldier for War Crimes (Wall Street Journal)

Ukraine begins first war crimes trial of Russian soldier (Reuters)

‘Compelling Evidence’ Of Russian War Crimes–Including Deliberate Killing Of Civilians–In Ukraine, Amnesty International Says (Forbes)

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