Russian soldier who killed Ukrainian civilians asks for ‘forgiveness’

The first Russian soldier to be tried in Ukraine asked for “pardon” after admitting to killing a 62-year-old civilian in February.

“I know you won’t forgive me, but I still hope to be forgiven,” sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, told the wife of the man he admitted murdered, at the trial in Kiev, Ukraine. today.

Shishimarin, from the Siberian province of Irkutsk wearing a blue and gray hoodie, lowered her face and rested her head on the frame as Kateryna Shelipova testified about her husband’s death. At the trial on May 18, when asked if he would admit to the charges, including committing war crimes and attempted murder, Shishimarin answered “yes”.

Shishimarin testified in court that he shot the man as he and several other Russian soldiers were retreating and trying to return to their units in Russia. A non-commander ordered him to shoot this civilian.

“He started saying in a firm tone that I should shoot, that it would be dangerous if I didn’t,” Shishimarin said. “I shot him at short range and the shot killed him.”

Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin at the trial in Kiev, Ukraine, May 18.  Photo: Reuters.

Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin at the trial in Kiev, Ukraine, May 18. Image: Reuters.

Ukraine accused Shishimarin and four other Russian soldiers on February 28 of stealing a car of people in Ukraine to leave after their convoy was attacked. While driving to the village of Chupakhivka, Sumy province, northeastern Ukraine, the group of Russian soldiers saw a 62-year-old civilian riding a bicycle and talking on the phone on the street.

According to the Ukrainian indictment, Shishimarin murdered the civilian to prevent him from reporting the presence of Russian troops in the area. This soldier was accused of using a Kalashnikov rifle to shoot from a car, killing Ukrainian civilians.

Kiev did not say how Shishimarin was captured. If convicted, Shishimarin could face life in prison. His case marks the first time Ukraine has tried a Russian soldier on charges of “war crimes” since the conflict broke out on February 24.

Russia has not commented on the Ukraine trial. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on May 18 that he had not received information about Shishimarin’s case and was also limited in his ability to assist due to the lack of diplomatic missions.

According to the Committee of the Red Cross and International Human Rights Watch, prisoners of war cannot be prosecuted on the grounds that they are directly involved in armed conflict. However, these people can be prosecuted for committing war crimes.

War crimes refer to acts that violate international law while fighting and controlling an opponent’s territory, such as intentionally targeting civilians, attacking hospitals, schools and historical sites. .

Ukrainian authorities have stepped up efforts to investigate Russia’s alleged war crimes. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova announced that they plan to try 41 Russian soldiers on charges of attacking civilian infrastructure, killing, looting and raping civilians. It is not clear how many Russian soldiers will be tried in Ukraine and how many will be tried in absentia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he had established a special mechanism to investigate “Russian crimes” with the participation of domestic and international experts.

Meanwhile, Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusations of Kiev and the West, and said that Ukraine is the party that committed the crimes and staged the scenes of civilian deaths. Moscow has also repeatedly asserted that it only targets military targets. AP reports that Russia is also preparing trials for “war crimes” against Ukrainian soldiers.

Huyen Le (Theo AFP, CNN)

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