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A Russian soldier has been sentenced to life in prison after killing a civilian in Ukraine’s first war crimes trial.

Russian serviceman Vadim Shishimarin – who was captured by Ukrainian troops – has been handed the life term during Ukraine’s first war crimes trial held since the start of the invasion in February.

Shishimarin, a 21-year-old tank commander, had pleaded guilty to killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov in the northeastern Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka on Feb. 28 after being ordered to shoot him.

Judge Serhiy Agafonov said Shishimarin, carrying out a “criminal order” by a soldier of higher rank, had fired several
shots at the victim’s head from an automatic weapon.

Shishimarin, wearing a blue and grey hooded sweatshirt, watched proceedings silently from a reinforced glass box in the courtroom and showed no emotion as the verdict was read out.

Shishimarin, 21, pleaded guilty to murdering a civilian ( REUTERS)

The trial has huge symbolic significance for Ukraine, which has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians
during the invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.

Russia has denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes.

The Kremlin did not immediately comment on the verdict. It has previously said that it has no information about the trial and that the absence of a diplomatic mission in Ukraine limits its ability to provide assistance.

“Of course we are concerned about the fate of our citizen, but, I repeat, we do not have the capacity to protect his
interests in person,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with reporters.

Shishimarin showed no emotion as the verdict was read out ( REUTERS)

Shishimarin, 21, testified last Thursday that he shot a civilian on orders from two officers and pleaded for his victim’s widow to forgive him following her heartbreaking statement.

“I acknowledge my guilt… I ask you to forgive me,” he told the widow Kateryna Shelipova.

Ms Shelipova, 62, described to the court the anguish at hearing shots from the garden and calling for her husband, only to find Shishimarin with a gun and her husband’s dead body.

She said her husband was a tractor driver who did not possess weapons.

Kateryna Shelipova attends court hearing ( REUTERS)

Ms Shelipova said the loss of her husband is “everything for me, he was my protector.”

She told the court that Shishimarin deserves a life sentence for killing her husband but voiced she wouldn’t mind if he was exchanged as part of a prisoner swap with Russia for the surrendered Ukrainian defenders of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

She asked Shishimarin what he felt when he killed her husband.

“Do you repent of this crime?” she asked.

Shishimarin arrives at a Kyiv court on May 13 ( REUTERS)

He responded: ” I admit my guilt. I understand you can’t forgive me. I ask forgiveness.”

Shishimarin told the court he first disobeyed his immediate commanding officer’s order to shoot the unarmed civilian but then had no other choice but to follow the order when it was forcefully repeated by another officer.

The captured member of a Russian tank unit is being prosecuted under a section of the Ukrainian criminal code that addresses the laws and customs of war.

Another trial of two Russians in Ukraine started on Tuesday in the Kharkiv region.

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