Russian soldier accused of killing civilian faces first war crimes trial in Ukrainian conflict

The 21-year-old is seen on video shooting a 62-year-old man using an automatic weapon.

Vadim Shishimarin

Russian serviceman Vadim Shishimarin at a court hearing in the Solomyansky district court in Kyiv. Source: AAP / TANYA GORDIENKO/EPA

A Russian soldier accused of killing a civilian during Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine appeared in court in Kyiv ahead of the first war crimes trial since the start of the offensive.

Vadim Shishimarin, 21, was brought to court for a preliminary hearing, accused of killing an unarmed 62-year-old civilian, which can be seen in footage distributed by local media.

In a video shared by Ukrainian media, Shishimarin, has a shaved head, wore a grey and blue hoodie, and was placed in the defendant's box.

He faces possible life imprisonment on charges of war crimes and premeditated murder.

The trial marks a significant moment for Ukraine, where Russian forces have been accused of killing hundreds of civilians since the war began on February 24.

Shishimarin is accused of firing an automatic rifle from a car window, killing the civilian to prevent him from serving as a witness to a carjacking, Ukrainian prosecutors said earlier this week.

Prosecutor Yaroslav Ushchapivskiy told the Ukrainska Pravda news website that Shishimarin had admitted his guilt and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
Young man looks down as media surrounds him
The trial of a Russian soldier accused of killing a Ukrainian civilian opened Friday, the first war crimes trial since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Source: AP / Efrem Lukatsky/AP
After his convoy was hit in northern Ukraine on 28 February, Shishimarin joined four other fleeing soldiers and stole a car from outside the village of Chupakhivka, officials say.

The civilian, who was not named, was riding his bicycle on the side of the road not far from his home when the alleged theft took place, according to prosecutors.

"One of the military servicemen ordered the accused to kill a civilian so that he would not report them," according to a statement from the prosecutor general's office Thursday.

"The man died on the spot just a few dozen metres from his home," it added.

Shishimarin, who hails from Russia's Siberian region of Irkutsk, was the commander of a unit in Russia's Kantemirov Panzer division of the Moscow region, according to prosecutors.

Western countries have repeatedly accused Russian troops of committing war crimes in Ukraine.

The UN Human Rights Council voted overwhelmingly on Thursday - in a session boycotted by Russia - to probe allegations of atrocities in the Kyiv, Chernigiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions.

International Criminal Court (ICC) teams are also investigating possible mass atrocities, including in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where at least 20 bodies were discovered in April.

3 min read
Published 14 May 2022 at 10:42am
Source: AFP