Russian soldier pleads guilty to war crimes

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Russian Army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is seen behind glass during a court hearing in kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

KYIV, Ukraine — A 21-year-old Russian soldier facing the first war crimes trial since Moscow invaded Ukraine pleaded guilty on Wednesday to killing an unarmed civilian.

sergeant. Vadim Shishimarin could be sentenced to life in prison for shooting a 62-year-old Ukrainian man in the head through an open car window in the northeast region of Sumy on February 28, four days after the start of the invasion.

Shishimarin, a captured member of a Russian tank unit, was prosecuted under a section of Ukraine’s criminal code that deals with the laws and customs of war.

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova previously said her office was preparing war crimes cases against 41 Russian soldiers for offenses including bombing civilian infrastructure, killing civilians, raping and looting.

It was not immediately clear how many suspects are in Ukrainian hands and how many will be tried in absentia.

As Ukraine’s first war crimes case, Shishimarin’s prosecution was closely watched. Investigators have gathered evidence of possible war crimes to bring before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Venediktova’s office said it was investigating more than 10,700 potential war crimes involving more than 600 suspects, including Russian soldiers and government officials.

With the help of foreign experts, prosecutors are investigating allegations that Russian troops violated Ukrainian and international law by killing, torturing and ill-treating possibly thousands of Ukrainian civilians.

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