Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin has been sentenced to life in prison for war crimes committed in Ukraine

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 north-eastern village of Chupakhivka on February 28.

He admitted to shooting Mr Shelipov, but claimed he was operating on orders and begged the widow’s forgiveness.

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

And, in a conflict where the purposeful targeting of civilians has become a defining characteristic, Monday’s decision establishes an important legal precedent.

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

Judge Serhiy Agafonov imposed the life sentence, saying Shishimarin, 21, had followed out a “criminal order” from a higher-ranking soldier.

“Given that the act committed is a crime against peace, security, humanity, and the international legal order,” he explained, “the court does not see the prospect of imposing a [shorter] sentence of imprisonment.”

Shishimarin sat silently in a reinforced glass box in the courtroom, wearing a blue and grey hooded sweatshirt, and showed no expression as the judgement was read out.

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

The Kremlin’s response is already underway, with legislation being developed and tribunals being established in Russia to trial some Ukrainian detainees as war criminals.

Shishimarin served in Russia’s Kantemirovskaya tank division. At the time of the killing, he and other soldiers were travelling in a car they had seized after their convoy came under attack and they became separated from their unit. He told the court that he was told to shoot Mr Shelipov. His defence lawyer told the court on Friday that the defendant only fired after twice refusing to carry out the order to shoot, and that only one out of three to four rounds had hit Mr Shelipov.

 

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