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A kyiv court has sentenced a Russian soldier to life in prison for the murder of a Ukrainian civilian, in the first verdict of a trial related to war crimes committed by the Russian military during its invasion of Ukraine .

Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old sergeant, was found guilty of murdering 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov in the Sumy region during the first days of the invasion.

The verdict was delivered Monday by Judge Serhii Ahafonov, in a crowded courtroom, with dozens of Ukrainian and foreign TV cameras crammed into the small room.

The judge said that although Shishimarin cooperated with the investigation and expressed remorse, the court could not accept his assertion that he had not intended to kill Shelipov when he shot him.

Shishimarin, dressed in a gray and blue hoodie, listened with his head bowed as the judge delivered his lengthy verdict from inside the glass box for the defendants. He received a translation of the judge’s words from Ukrainian to Russian by an official translator.

This is the first in a series of war crimes cases that Ukrainian prosecutors want to try as soon as possible. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said she was preparing more than 40 war crimes cases that could go to trial soon, and Ukrainian authorities say they have registered more than 10,000 war crimes across the country. .

To decide cases so quickly, while the dispute is still ongoing, is extremely unusual and may violate elements of the Geneva Conventions, legal experts say. However, Ukraine has made speedy justice a priority, in part to warn Russian troops still occupying parts of the country that they could face justice for the crimes they commit.

Prosecutors said Shishimarin was in a car with other Russian soldiers, one of whom ordered him to shoot Shelipov because he had witnessed them shooting at a car and then stealing it.

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Shishimarin pleaded guilty to the crime, but his attorney argued that his client was following an order and did not intend to kill. He has 30 days to appeal.

In an interview with Russian independent media Meduza, Shishimarin’s mother Lyubov said her son was a caring and kind young man who joined the military partly because there was a lack of opportunity in their home. hometown, and partly to help support the family after her stepfather was killed last year.

She said Shishimarin called her at the end of February and said, “Mom, I won’t have a phone for a week, I have to give it up.” If someone tells you that I went to Ukraine, don’t believe them.

The next time she heard of him was when she found out he was a prisoner in Ukraine, she said.

Shelipov’s widow, Katerina, identified Shishimarin as the man who shot her husband during a court hearing last week and told the court she hoped he would receive a life sentence. “But if he’s traded for our Azovstal defenders, I wouldn’t mind,” she said.

There has been speculation that once convicted, Shishmarin and others could be used in an exchange for Ukrainians detained by Russia, including the more than 2,000 steelworker defenders. Azovstal in Mariupol who recently surrendered to the Russians.

Russian officials have wavered between calling for harsh sentences, including the death penalty, for some of the fighters, and suggesting they might be open to a swap.

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