A Ukrainian court sentenced a Russian soldier to life imprisonment on Monday for killing an unarmed civilian in the first war crimes trial following the Russian invasion.
Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old tank commander, pleaded guilty to killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov in the village of Chupakhivka in the northeast of Ukraine on 28 February, four days after the invasion.
Judge Serhiy Agafonov stated that Shishimarin, executing a “criminal order” by a senior soldier, fired multiple shots at the victim’s head from an automatic weapon.
“In view of the fact that the crime committed is a crime against peace, security, humanity, and the international legal order, the court sees no possibility of imposing a (shorter) sentence,” he said.
Shishimarin, wearing a blue and grey hoodie, watched the proceedings silently from a case of reinforced glass in the courtroom and showed no emotion while the verdict was being read. He kept his head down, listening to the translator.
Shishmarin’s lawyer, Viktor Ovsyannikov, stated that he was not surprised by the sentence because there had been “some pressure from society” and stated that he would launch a legal appeal.
The trial, which only started last week, has tremendous symbolic meaning for Ukraine and an international lawyer told Reuters that it could be the first of many.
Kiev blamed Russia for barbarity and cruelty against civilians during the invasion and said it had identified over 10,000 possible war crimes.
Russia has refused to target civilians or be involved in war crimes while conducting what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
The Kremlin did not immediately say anything about the verdict.
It has already said that it did not have any information on the trial and that the lack of a diplomatic mission in Ukraine limits its ability to provide assistance.