- A Ukrainian court has held a war crimes trial hearing on a soldier involved in the invasion of Russia.
- A Russian soldier has been charged with the murder of a civilian.
- Russia began its invasion on February 24.
A Ukrainian court held a preliminary hearing Friday in the first war crimes trial stemming from Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, after charging a captured Russian soldier with the murder of a 62-year-old civilian.
The kyiv government 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 engaging in war crimes and accused kyiv of organizing them to smear its forces. The Kremlin told reporters on Friday that it had no information about a war crimes trial.
The defendant told the court that he was Vadim Shishimarin, born in the Russian region of Irkutsk, and confirmed that he was a Russian military officer in a brief preliminary hearing. The court will reconvene on May 18, the judge said.
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He will tell the court at a later date whether or not to deny the charge, his lawyer Viktor Ovsyannikov said.
Shaven-headed and looking frightened, Shishimarin wore a blue and gray casual sweatshirt and was ushered by police into the courtroom to a glass booth for the accused.
If convicted, he faces life in prison for the murder in the northeastern Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka, east of the capital kyiv, on February 28.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said the defendant was a 21-year-old tank commander in the Kantemirovskaya tank division of the Moscow region. The attorney general had published a photograph of him before the hearing.
“(The) wheels of justice (have) started to turn and this process will deliver results,” Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova wrote on Twitter on Friday.
In a statement ahead of the hearing, the prosecutor general’s office said the soldier and four other Russian servicemen shot and stole a private car to escape after their column was attacked by Ukrainian forces.
The statement says Russian soldiers entered the village of Chupakhivka where they saw an unarmed resident riding a bicycle and talking on the phone.
He said another military officer ordered the defendant to kill the civilian to prevent him from reporting the presence of the Russians and fired several shots through the open car window with an assault rifle at the civilian’s head, killing him instantly. .
He did not say what evidence led to the war crimes charges. The SBU Security Service of Ukraine conducted the investigation of the case, she said.
State prosecutor Andriy Synyuk told Reuters the soldier was captured when he “surrendered”. He did not elaborate.