A lawyer for the first Russian soldier in Ukraine’s trial said in a statement on Friday that his client was “not guilty” of premeditated murder and war crimes.
Russian serviceman Vadim Shishimarin, 21, has admitted in a Kiev court that he killed a 62-year-old civilian in the early stages of the Moscow invasion of Ukraine.
His lawyer, Viktor Ovsyannikov, told the court that “considering the evidence, I believe Shishimarin is not guilty of the crime.”
“I’m asking you to release my client.”
Prosecutors this week called for Shishimarin to be sentenced to life in prison for killing a civilian, Alexander Shelipov, in the northeastern Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka, just days after Russian tanks entered Ukraine.
Shishimarin, a shaved-headed Russian sergeant from Irkutsk, Siberia, told the court on Friday that he was “really sorry” for what he had done.
Standing in a glass defense box wearing a gray and blue hoodie, he said, “I panicked about what was happening. I didn’t want to kill.”
The landmark trial, which ended its third day on Friday, is expected to see a verdict against the young Russians on Monday.
This is the first such incident since the February 24 invasion of Russia and is seen as a universal test of Ukraine’s independence of the judiciary.
International agencies are also investigating abuses by Russian forces
I want to apologize
Shishimarin told the court earlier this week that the killings took place on February 28 while he and several other army members were retreating.
He said he was asked to be killed by another Russian soldier who was not a high-ranking official.
“I want to apologize for what I did,” Shishimarin said Friday.
At a hearing a day earlier, he had apologized to his victim’s widow, Katrina Shelipova.
His lawyer argued in court that Shishimarin did not want to comply with what he thought was a direct order and that he initially did not comply.
He said Shishimarin had “succumbed to pressure” from two other Russian soldiers in a car trying to return to Russia.
Ovsannikov also questioned whether his client wanted to kill Shelipov.
“Is it possible to make a targeted shot in such an environment? Was Shishimarin intended to kill Shelipov?”
The lawyer said his client made the order in the hope that his shots would not kill Shelipov. He further added that Shishimarin had “voluntarily” surrendered to Ukrainian forces.
However, the prosecution argued that Shishimarin fired three or four shots at the civilians.
“He was executing a criminal order and was well aware of it,” the prosecutor said.
The Kremlin says it has not been notified of Shishimarin’s case, and his lawyer says he has not had any contact with Russian officials.
Ukraine’s Interfax news agency reported Thursday that two more Russian soldiers on trial in the country’s center have admitted to firing on civilians.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)