Four Russian soldiers were indicted for war crimes against a US national in Ukraine.
They threatened to kill the man and did a "mock execution," per court records.
It's the first such charge brought by the DOJ, according to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Justice Department prosecutors have brought war crime charges against four Russians accused of torturing and performing a mock execution on an American civilian in occupied Ukraine.
Suren Mkrtchyan and Dmitry Budnik, two commanding officers of Russian military units, and two lower-ranking soldiers, identified by their first names Valerii and Nazar, were charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes, unlawful confinement of a protected person, torture, and inhuman treatment, per court records.
The nine-page indictment, issued by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, accused the soldiers of breaking Article 147 of the Geneva Convention and US war crime laws during the abduction of the unnamed American on April 2, 2022.
Mkrtchyan, Valerii, and Nazar threw the victim "face down to the ground while he was naked" and "tied his hands behind his back," before "pointing a gun at his head" and "beating him with their feet, their fists, and the stocks of their guns," it said.
They proceeded to "forcibly" transport him to buildings that were being used as a military compound, where the man was severely beaten on his legs, back, stomach, and head, according to the indictment.
The victim was subjected to at least two interrogations, in which Mkrtchyan, Valerii, and Nazar inflicted "severe and serious physical and mental pain and sufferings" on him, the indictment read.
Budnik also asked the man for his last words, per court records. Nazar and others then conducted a "mock execution," forcing him to the ground, "putting a gun to his back, moving the position of the gun, and pulling the trigger, causing the bullet to go past the victim's head and causing him to believe he was about to die," the indictment said.
Per the indictment, the man was also forced to perform manual labor like digging trenches for 10 days while detained.
The charges are the first of their kind to be brought by the Justice Department, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement.
"The Justice Department will work for as long as it takes to pursue accountability and justice for Russia's war of aggression," he added.
According to Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin, Russia has committed more than 100,000 alleged war crimes since the start of its full-scale invasion in February 2022.
In March, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Russia's commissioner for children's rights, for their alleged involvement in the deportation of children from occupied areas of Ukraine.
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