Ukraine Prosecutor Seeks Life Sentence for Russian Soldier on War Crimes Trial

kyiv, May 19 (Reuters) – A Ukrainian state prosecutor asked a court on Thursday to sentence a Russian soldier to life in prison for killing an unarmed civilian in the first war crimes trial stemming from Russia’s February 24 invasion. .

Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old Russian tank commander, asked widow Kateryna Shelipova to forgive him for the murder of her husband, Oleksandr, in the northeastern Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka on February 28.

“I admit my guilt… I ask you to forgive me,” he told Shelipova at Thursday’s hearing attended by Reuters.

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He pleaded guilty to the murder on Wednesday. read more

Oleksandr Shelipov’s killing was one of what Ukraine and Western nations say is a much bigger picture: Ukraine has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians during the invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes. Russia has denied targeting civilians or engaging in war crimes.

At Thursday’s court hearing, Shishimarin put on a sad spectacle in a glass booth for the defendants: boyish, dressed in tracksuits, their heads shaved downwards.

The Kremlin has said it has no information about the trial and that the absence of a diplomatic mission in Ukraine limits its ability to provide assistance.

The widow told the court that on the day her husband was killed, she heard distant gunshots from her yard and had called her husband.

“I ran to my husband, he was already dead. He was shot in the head. I screamed, I screamed so much,” she said. She looked distraught and her voice trembled with emotion.

Shelipova told the court she would not object if Shishimarin was handed over to Russia as part of a prisoner swap to get “our guys” out of the port city of Mariupol, a reference to the hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers who gave themselves up to Russia. read more

The trial comes as much of Ukraine is gripped by the fate of its soldiers it hopes Russia will hand over as part of a trade. In Russia, some high-ranking lawmakers have called for Azov Regiment fighters to be put on trial.

Shelipova said her husband was unarmed and in civilian clothes. They had a 27-year-old son and two grandchildren together, she added.

Ukrainian state prosecutors have said Shishimarin fired multiple shots with an assault rifle at a civilian’s head from a car after being ordered to do so. read more

Asked if he had been forced to follow an order that amounted to a war crime, Shishimarin said “no.”

“I fired a short burst, three or four bullets,” he told the court.

“I am from Irkutsk Oblast (a region in Siberia), I have two brothers and two sisters… I am the oldest,” he said.

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Information from Max Hunder; Written by Tom Balmforth; Edited by Alexandra Hudson, Nick Macfie and Frances Kerry

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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