The first Russian soldier tried for war crimes was sentenced to life in prison

The first Russian soldier tried for war crimes was sentenced to life in prison

Vadim Shishimarin is the first Russian soldier to be convicted of committing war crimes in Ukraine. The 21-year-old sergeant will have to serve a life sentence for being found guilty of killing an unarmed civilian, Oleksandr Shelypov, 62, in the Ukrainian city of Sumy, four days after the Russian invasion began.

The verdict was issued on Monday 23 May 2022. Judge Serhii Ahafonov established the sentence who, despite having ascertained how Shishimarin expressed remorse for his actions and collaborated with the investigations, could not accept as mitigating the statement of the boy according to which it was not his intention to kill Shelypov when he opened fire on him.

According to the footage analyzed by the court and confirmed by the reconstruction of Shishimarin himself, the soldier was in a car with other soldiers, one of which he ordered him to shoot the civilian on a bicycle across the street. Shishimarin then fired three or four Kalashnikov shots to the man's head from the window of the car stolen by Russian soldiers. Shelypov, however, had witnessed the theft. So the highest-ranking military man would have ordered his assassination, to eliminate a witness, and Shishimarin carried out.

During the trial the 21-year-old pleaded guilty to war crimes, but his defender tried of extenuating circumstances by claiming that he was carrying out an order from a direct superior and that he had no intention of killing. Now they will have thirty days to appeal. According to the mother's testimony, reported by the Russian newspaper Meduza, the boy allegedly told her not to believe if someone tells you that I went to Ukraine, only to receive news from him once he found out that he had been taken prisoner in the invaded country.

Shishimarin could be used as an exchange to obtain the release of Ukrainian soldiers held by Russia, including the approximately two thousand who were defending the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Shelipov's widow, who identified the man who shot her husband as the soldier, asked the court for a life sentence for Shishimarin, but also claimed to be in favor of the exchange, to save the lives of "our defenders" , reads the Guardian.