A Russian soldier testified Thursday in the first war crimes trial in Ukraine since the conflict began, saying he shot a civilian on orders from two officers and pleading with his victim’s widow to forgive him as reported by AP News.
Vadim Shishimarin told the court that the officer insisted that the Ukrainian man, who was speaking on his cellphone, could pinpoint their location to the Ukrainian forces.
The 21-year-old sergeant could get life in prison if convicted of shooting the Ukrainian man in the head through an open car window in a village in the northeastern Sumy region on Feb. 28, four days into the Russian invasion.
Looking subdued, Shishimarin said he at first disobeyed his immediate commanding officer’s order to shoot the unarmed civilians but had no other choice but to follow the order when it was repeated forcefully by another officer.
Shishimarin pleaded guilty to the charges during Wednesday’s hearing.
On Thursday, he asked the victim’s widow, who also appeared in the trial, to forgive him for what he did.
Pleading for forgiveness
“I realize that you can’t forgive me, but I’m pleading with you for forgiveness,” Shishimarin said.
When the shooting ceased shortly after, she walked out and found her husband shot dead just outside their home.
Shelipova told the court that Shishimarin deserves a life sentence for killing her husband but added that she wouldn’t mind if he’s exchanged as part of a possible prisoner swap with Russia for the surrendered Ukrainian defenders of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
The prosecutor asked for a life sentence for Shishimarin and the trial adjourned until Friday.
Investigators have been collecting evidence of possible war crimes to bring before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
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Source: AP News