Ukraine to hold first war crimes trial of Russian soldier

Prosecutors say 21-year-old Vadim Shyshimarin is accused of killing an unarmed 62-year-old civilian.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova talk as they stand near a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine
Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, left, and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock talk near a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine [File: Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

Ukraine will launch its first war crimes trial over Moscow’s ongoing invasion, bringing a 21-year-old Russian soldier to the stand, Kyiv’s top prosecutor has announced.

Vadim Shyshimarin is accused of killing an unarmed 62-year-old civilian on February 28, firing an automatic rifle from a car window to prevent him from reporting a group of soldiers, according to a statement on Wednesday from Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova’s office.

After his convoy was hit, Shyshimarin and four other fleeing soldiers stole a car from outside the village of Chupakhivka, the statement added.

The civilian, who was not named, was riding his bicycle on the side of the road not far from his home, the office said.

“One of the military servicemen ordered the accused to kill a civilian so that he would not report them,” according to the statement.

“The man died on the spot just a few dozen metres from his home.”

The Russian service member, who is in custody, faces possible life imprisonment on charges of war crimes and premeditated murder.

Venediktova did not say when the trial would take place.

Her office released a photo of Shyshimarin but did not detail how he came to be in Ukrainian custody or what happened to the others in his group at the time of the alleged killing.

Volodymyr Yavorskyy of the Center for Civil Liberties said the Ukrainian human rights group will be closely following Shyshimarin’s trial to see if it is fair.

“It’s very difficult to observe all the rules, norms and neutrality of the court proceedings in wartime,” The Associated Press news agency quoted him as saying.

Kyiv and Washington have repeatedly accused Russian troops of committing war crimes since the February 24 invasion.

Venediktova’s office says it has received reports of more than 10,000 alleged war crimes, with 622 suspects identified.

The conflict has sparked a massive exodus of nearly six million Ukrainians, many of whom bear accounts of torture, sexual violence and indiscriminate destruction.

Britain and the Netherlands have sent war crimes investigators to Ukraine to assist local and International Criminal Court teams probing possible mass atrocities – including in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where at least 20 bodies were discovered on April 2.

The UN Human Rights Council is due to hold a special session on Ukraine on Thursday.

Source: News Agencies