Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin jailed for life over war crime

Image credit: BBC

In the first war crimes trial since the invasion, a Ukrainian court sentenced a Russian tank commander to life in prison for killing a civilian.

Sgt Vadim Shishimarin, a captured soldier, was found guilty of killing Oleksandr Shelipov, 62, in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka on February 28. He admitted to shooting Mr Shelipov but said he was operating on orders and begged his widow’s forgiveness.

Ukraine is looking into a number of other potential war crimes.

Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, Moscow has denied that its troops targeted civilians during the invasion, while Ukraine claims that over 11,000 crimes were committed.

Moscow expressed concern about the condition of the Russian soldier early on Monday, saying it would consider steps to defend him.

Judge Serhiy Agafonov sentenced Shishimarin to life in prison, saying he carried out a “criminal order” from a higher-ranking soldier.

Shishimarin, who was dressed in a blue and grey hooded sweatshirt, sat calmly in a reinforced glass box in the courtroom while the verdict was read out, according to Reuters.

His lawyer stated that he would file an appeal against the verdict.

Shishimarin, 21, was a member of the elite Kantemirovskaya tank division in Russia.

He and other troops were killed while travelling in a car they had captured after their convoy was attacked and they were separated from their unit.

Shishimarin told the court that Mr Shelipov was on his phone when they observed him. He claims he was told to use an assault weapon to kill him.

Shishimarin had only fired after twice refusing to carry out the order to shoot, and just one out of three to four rounds had reached the target, according to his defence lawyer.

He claimed Shishimarin shot the rounds in self-defence, but he questioned whether the defendant intended to kill.

During the trial, the victim’s widow Kateryna Shelipova faced Shishimarin in an emotional scene.

That elicited no response from the soldier. “But I understand you won’t be able to forgive me,” he remarked previously when asking for forgiveness from the widow.

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