A Kiev court will hear the first war crimes trial since Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine when a Russian soldier charged with murdering a 62-year-old civilian appeared in the dock on Friday.
The turning point comes as the number of crimes recorded by Ukraine’s Attorney General surpassed 11,000 and UNICEF reported that at least 100 children had died in the war in April alone.
The defendant to appear in the Kiev court is Vadim Shysimarin, a 21-year-old commander of the Kantemirovskaya tank division, who is currently in Ukrainian custody.
It is alleged that Shysimarin, a sergeant, was fighting in the Sumy region of northeastern Ukraine when he killed a civilian in the village of Chupakhivka on Feb. 28.
He is accused of shooting at a civilian car after his convoy of military vehicles was attacked by Ukrainian troops. He then drove the car away with four other soldiers as he tried to flee Ukrainian fighters.
Shysimarin shot and killed the unarmed man, who was riding a bicycle and on the phone, after being ordered “to kill a civilian so he wouldn’t turn them over to Ukrainian defenders,” prosecutors said.
The crime is said to have taken place “tens of meters” from the victim’s home and was committed with an AK-74 rifle.
The case was submitted to the criminal court this week. “He is here [in Ukraine]”We have him,” Ukraine’s Attorney General, Iryna Venediktova, said Tuesday from her heavily fortified headquarters in Kiev.
A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said: “Prosecutors and investigators from the SBU [Ukrainian secret services] have gathered sufficient evidence of his involvement in violating the laws and customs of war in conjunction with first degree murder. He faces 10 to 15 years in prison or life in prison for these actions.”
Two other cases are likely to be heard in court within days, including a trial in absentia against Mikhail Romanov, a Russian soldier charged with rape and murder. He is charged with breaking into a house in March in a village in the Brovarsky region near Kiev, murdering a man and repeatedly raping his wife while “threatening her and her minor child with violence and weapons”.