A 21-year-old Russian soldier was sentenced to life in prison on Monday for killing an unarmed man in Ukraine’s first war crimes trial since Russia’s invasion.
The soldier, Vadim Shishimarin, pleaded guilty to shooting and killing a 62-year-old civilian on the fourth day of the conflict in late February.
Prior to Monday’s ruling, the court had ruled that Shishimarin had committed a “criminal offense” under international humanitarian law.
“[Shishimarin] I saw a civilian on the sidewalk, Alexander Shelipov, “the court said. “Shishimarin knows that Shelipov is a civilian and unarmed and there is no threat to him – he fires several shots at Shelipov from his single-gun.”
“Shelipov’s death was caused by a bullet in the head that shattered the skull,” the court added. Punishment can be appealed within 30 days.
Prosecutor Andrei Sunyuk raised the possibility of further war crimes trials against Russian troops, saying he hoped Shishimarin’s conviction would send a message.
“I think all other law enforcement agencies will continue to follow the path we have traveled,” he said.
“This will be a good example for other occupiers who may not yet be on our territory but are planning to come,” Suniuk added. “Or for those who are here now and planning to stay and fight. Or maybe they just think it’s time to move on. ”
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin was “concerned” about Shishimarin and would look for ways to help him.
“Of course, we are concerned about the fate of our citizens,” Peskov told reporters at a regular conference call.
“We do not have much opportunity to defend his interests on the ground, because the foreign organization is not really active [in Kyiv]. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try other channels, “said Peskov, without elaborating on which channel he was referring to.
Peskov has previously said that Russia considers the allegations “unacceptable,” “offensive” and “staged.”
Speaking Friday, Shishimarin admitted he was responsible for the killings but was “sorry and sincerely remorseful.”
“It simply came to our notice then. I didn’t want to kill. But it happened and I do not deny it, “he said.
Shishimarin’s lawyer, Viktor Ovsyannikov, argued that although his client was guilty of murder, it was not murder.
“Shishimarin was under a lot of stress because of the war situation and the pressure from his commander. Analysis of this situation led me to conclude that Shishimarin had no direct motive for the assassination, “Ovsannikov said.
Ovsannikov tried to draw his clients and other Russian soldiers into the Kremlin’s Machiavellian scheme as unintentional pawns.
Ovsannikov said the soldiers were not aware that their actions would result in “mass casualties not only of the army but also of civilians.”
Shishimarin, who appeared in court behind a glass wearing a blue-gray top with a glass head, spoke only on several occasions during the trial.
He asserted that his confession had been obtained through torture, and that his confession had been obtained through torture.
Shishimarin told him: “I understand you can’t forgive me, but I’m sorry.”
The woman asked the Russian soldier why she had come to Ukraine, lecturingly asking: “Did you come to save us? From whom? Did you save me from killing my husband?”
“We were instructed to bring our columns, I did not know what would happen,” said Shishimarin.