Ukrainian Court Sentences Russian Soldier to Life in Prison in First War Crimes Trial

A Russian soldier was sentenced to life in prison on Monday after pleading guilty to war crimes in Ukraine, The Associated Press reports.

Russian Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, pleaded guilty last week to fatally shooting a 62-year-old civilian in the head near Sumy early in the war.

He said that he was ordered to shoot the man by his superiors.

The trial is the first war crimes trial held in Ukraine since the war began. The country is investigating thousands of potential war crimes.

Some more difficult cases may need to go to an international tribunal, experts say.

“The International Criminal Court will have jurisdiction to try those most responsible for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, where Ukraine is unable or unwilling to do so,” human rights attorney Aarif Abraham told the AP.

Questions about sentence:

The soldier’s attorney vowed to appeal the sentence, arguing that his client had been unprepared for the “violent military confrontation” he was thrown into.

Volodymyr Yavorskyy of the Center for Civil Liberties said that the public was interested in “a crystal clear process in compliance with all legal norms.”

“The trial left many questions,” he said. “This is an extremely harsh sentence for one murder during the war, and the very qualification of the crime was wrong.”

Still, Abraham noted that the trial was conducted with “what appears to be full and fair due process,” including access to a court-appointed lawyer.

Russia responds:

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia was concerned about the soldier’s fate but was unable to defend him “on the ground.”

“But this doesn’t mean that we won’t consider the possibility of continuing attempts (to defend him) through other channels,” he said.

Russia has also threatened to bring war crimes charges against Ukrainian soldiers.

The head of a Russia-backed separatist region in eastern Ukraine said that fighters captured in Mariupol would face an “international tribunal.”


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