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Ukraine begins trial of Russian soldier accused of war crime


KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian judicial authorities on Friday opened a case against a Russian soldier accused of shooting a civilian, the first trial involving an alleged war crime by a Russian serviceman since the invasion began in February.

The soldier, the sergeant. Vadim Shysimarin, is accused of shooting a 62-year-old man on a bicycle in the village of Chupakhivka in the Sumy region, about 200 miles east of kyiv. The man was killed on February 28, four days after the full-scale invasion began, and his body was left on the side of the road.

sergeant. Shysimarin, part of a Moscow region tank division, was later captured, although details of how this happened remain unclear. The indictment will be read on May 18. He faces 10 to 15 years in prison.

He was brought into the courtroom in handcuffs and placed before judicial authorities on Friday, locked in a glass box. Dressed in a blue and gray hoodie and sweatpants, Sgt. Shysimarin kept his shaved head bowed throughout the proceedings and did not respond to questions from reporters about how he felt.

According to an investigation by Ukraine’s intelligence agency, the SBU, and the General Prosecutor’s Office, the sergeant and four other servicemen stole a car at gunpoint as they fled from Ukrainian forces and drove into the village, where they saw a 62-year-old unarmed resident riding a bicycle. on the side of the road and talking on the phone.

sergeant. Shysimarin was ordered to kill the civilian so he wouldn’t turn on his group of soldiers, prosecutors say. He fired a Kalashnikov rifle through the car window at the man’s head and killed him instantly – a few dozen meters from his home, according to the investigation. Prosecutors said they were able to identify the exact weapon that Sgt. Chisimarin used.

sergeant. Shysimarin is being defended by Viktor Ovsyannikov, a Ukrainian court-appointed lawyer.

“For me, it’s just work,” he said when asked how he felt about defending someone accused of being a war criminal. “It’s very important to make sure that my client’s human rights are protected, to show that we are a different country than the one he is from.”

The Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Iryna Venediktova, and Ukrainian law enforcement, assisted by international experts, have meticulously gathered evidence of war crimes. What makes this case rare is that the suspect is being held in Ukraine.

War crimes trials generally stem from violations of international laws of conflict. The best-known trials, such as those that took place in the German city of Nuremberg at the end of World War II, largely took place after the conflict was over.

Russian forces in Ukraine are accused of atrocities in the areas they seized, many of which likely fall under the category of war crimes. The publicity surrounding these atrocities served to galvanize international opinion against Moscow. Russian authorities have denied responsibility for the killings and abuses of civilians.

On Thursday, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the bodies of more than 1,000 civilians had been found in areas north of kyiv occupied by Russian forces, including several hundred who were summarily executed and others who were shot by snipers. . Ms Bachelet said the figure was likely to rise.

Amid continued efforts to document each killing, the Ukrainian government has released the names and photos of 10 Russian soldiers it says committed war crimes in Bucha, a suburb north of kyiv.

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