Ukraine starts its first war crimes trial since beginning of Russia’s invasion

Ukraine has begun its first war trial against a captured Russian soldier who has been accused of killing a 62-year-old civilian within the first few days of Moscow’s invasion.

Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin, 21, was present in a small courtroom donning a grey and blue tracksuit and was seen handcuffed as security officials escorted him inside the room for trial proceedings.

He was held for killing an unarmed 62-year-old civilian who was riding a bicycle on 28 February.

Deployed as the commander of the Kantemirovskaya tank division, the man is accused of firing through a car window on the man in Sumy Oblast’s Chupakhivka village.

He was driving a stolen vehicle in the area and shot down the civilian upon receiving an order directed at preventing the Ukrainian civilians from learning about their location in the region, the prosecutors said.

Barring a few instances like confirming basic details of his name in the court, Mr Shishimarin reportedly did not speak in the court much. He is yet to contest the charges against him in the trial.

According to his lawyer, Mr Shishimarin confessed to killing the civilian but has not said anything on whether he wants to plead guilty, reported The Guardian.

He spoke briefly to confirm his name and that he understood the charges against him, assisted by a Russian interpreter in the court. “Yes, I understand,” he said.

If convicted for the crime, the Russian soldier, who is in Ukraine’s custody, can be imprisoned for life. The hearing will resume on Wednesday.

Ukrainian officials first announced the decision of starting the war trial on captured Russian soldiers on Wednesday.

Prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova’s office said that they are probing more than 10,700 alleged war crimes committed during the course of the country’s invasion. Ukraine has identified more than 600 suspects.

Shortly after the first hearing, state prosecutor Andriy Synyuk said that there will be “a lot of these cases”.

Douglas Mateo

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