Ukrainian prosecutors on Thursday demanded a life sentence for the first Russian soldier to be tried for war crimes since the start of the Moscow offensive, AFP reporters told the courtroom.
The prosecution asked the judge to sentence the 21-year-old Russian army sergeant to “life imprisonment” for killing 62-year-old civilian Alexander Shelipov in the early days of the Russian invasion.
The request came just days after the landmark trial opened and two other Russian military men were in court on Thursday for crimes against civilians.
Kyiv says it has filed thousands of war crimes cases since the start of the Moscow invasion.
In court, Russian serviceman Vadim Shishimarin asked the victim’s widow to pardon him and described how he shot and killed the man in the early days of the Russian invasion.
Addressing his victim’s widow, Katarina Shelipova, Shishimarin said: “I know you can’t forgive me, but I still apologize to you.”
He said he shot Shelipov while he and several other Russian soldiers were retreating to rejoin their unit in Russia, adding that another soldier pressured him to kill.
‘I shot him at short range’
Troops found a civilian vehicle, a Volkswagen, which they had hijacked “to go where our army was and return to Russia,” Shishimarin said.
“While we were driving, we saw a man. He was talking on the phone. He said he would leave us.”
Shishimarin said another soldier in the car, whom he said was not his commander and whom he called an “unknown” soldier, “told me to shoot.”
“He started shouting that I should be shot,” he told the court.
“He said if I didn’t I would put him in danger. I shot him in the short range. It killed him.”
The judges interrogated him in Ukrainian, interpreting Shishimarin – who translated from the Siberian region of Irkutsk – into Russian.
The killings took place on February 26, near the northeastern village of Chupakhivka, four days after the Moscow attack.
The soldiers then retreated into the woods and captured a civilian, Shishimarin claiming they had not harmed him.
The Russians then “voluntarily” surrendered to Ukrainian forces.
‘What are you here for?’
The handsome young man, dressed in a gray and blue hoodie, leaned his head against the glass defense box and stared at the ground where Katrina Shelipova was being held as she testified about her husband’s death.
“Why are you here to set us free?” Shelipova asked the soldier, referring to Moscow’s claim that its troops were liberating Ukrainian territory.
“What did my husband do to you?” He said he “heard the shots” while fetching water from a well
He then saw a car and “a young man with a rifle. I remember him well,” he said, referring to Shishimarin.
“Five minutes later I saw my husband. He was shot in the head and died. I started screaming very loudly.”
He said the incident took place around 11 am.
“My husband was dressed in civilian clothes. In a coat and trousers,” she said.
Another Russian soldier in the car, Ivan Matisov, 20, told the court that a third unidentified serviceman in the car told Shishimarin to “shout in a commanding tone” to shoot the civilian.
Both soldiers – Matissev and Shishimarin – said the third man was not a more senior officer, suggesting that Shishimarin was not obliged to follow orders to shoot.
The Kremlin said on Wednesday it had not been notified of Shishimarin’s case. His lawyer said he had no contact with Russian officials.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)