Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old Russian soldier, was sentenced to life in prison for killing a 62-year-old Ukrainian citizen in the conflict’s first war crimes trial. On February 28, 2022, Vadim Shishimarin’s squad was driving through the North-Eastern Sumy area when they came across Oleksandr Shelipov, an unarmed citizen riding a bicycle. Shishimarin allegedly shot his AK-47 through the vehicle window, killing Shelipov. Shishimirin pled guilty to Shelipov’s murder on May 18, after a trial, becoming the conflict’s first war crime conviction.
Confession and conviction of Vadim Shishimarin
According to NPR, the prosecution built a strong case against the Russian soldier, including ballistics analysis and witness testimony from Russian troops present at the time of the incident. Shishimarin and other Russian troops freely surrendered to Ukrainian forces, according to the Moscow Times. On May 4, the Ukrainian SBU released a video of the soldier admitting to the shooting. Vadim Shishimarin was sentenced to life in prison on May 23. According to CBS, the soldier said he was merely following instructions throughout the trial, but he nevertheless apologized to the victim’s widow, Kateryna Shelipova.
“I was terrified when it occurred. I didn’t want to murder anybody. But that occurred, and I’m not going to dispute it.”
Throughout the pre-trial investigations and court processes, it was disclosed to the court that Shishimirin’s unit was withdrawing on the day of Shelipov’s murder. They stole a private car to join other Russian soldiers before traveling to Chupakhivka, Sumy Oblast, where they met Shelipov.
Shishimarin said that his unit was afraid Shelipov would warn Ukrainian troops to the presence of Russian soldiers, which is why he was instructed to murder the civilian.
This is just the beginning.🇷🇺 sergeant Vadim Shishimarin sentenced to life imprisonment. The occupier killed a 🇺🇦 civilian.The first official verdict on a rus war criminal.Hundreds of thousands more await justice.
The Hague/Nuremberg are closer
Photo: REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi pic.twitter.com/WPCLIUDjUd
— Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) May 23, 2022
Listen to their words and decide if you feel sorry for the killer. https://t.co/XNqWrcn056
— Norine 🌻 (@NORINEMUR) May 23, 2022
Ukrainians react to the situation.
Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova characterized Shelipov’s murder as a war crime rather than a justifiable act of killing within the State of warfare in a Facebook post.
“It is a breach of war rules and conventions related to planned murder.”
According to the Moscow Times, the defense counsel, Victor Ovsyannikov, feels the punishment is much too severe. While he accepted Vadim Shishimarin’s participation in Shelipov’s death, he claimed that the shot could not be called murder since it happened during a fight.
“‘This is the worst penalty, and any rational person would contest it.”
Reuters reports that Judge Serhiy Agafonov was keen that it stays untouched.
“Given that the act committed was a crime against peace, security, humanity, and international legal order… the court does not see the prospect of imposing a (shorter) term of imprisonment on Shishimarin.”
The victim’s widow made a deep effect on the court at a noteworthy time in the trial when she rebuked Vadim Shishimarin and the more major dispute.
Kateryna Shelipova mocked Putin’s reasoning for the conflict, saying:
“Please tell me why you [Russians] came here.” “In order to ‘defend’ us?”
She went on:
“Who is protecting us? Did you shield me from my spouse, whom you murdered?”