Ukraine begins first war crimes trial of Russian soldier

STORY: A Ukrainian court held a preliminary hearing in the first war crimes trial arising from the Russian invasion on Friday (May 13).

Captured Russian soldier, 21-year-old Vadim Shishimarin, has been charged with the murder of a 62-year-old civilian, in a case that holds huge symbolic importance for Ukraine.

The tank commander faces up to life imprisonment over the killing in a northeastern Ukrainian village on February 28 - four days after Russia's invasion of Ukraine began.

Shishimarin was led into the courtroom by police to a glass booth for defendants.

He spoke to confirm his name, and that he was a Russian serviceman.

His lawyer said he will tell the court at a later date whether or not he denies the charge.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, state prosecutor Andriy Synyuk: "This is the first case today. But soon there will be a lot of these cases."

The prosecutor general's office said in a statement that the soldier stole a car to escape with four other Russian servicemen after their column was targeted by Ukrainian forces.

The Russians then allegedly drove into the village of Chupakhivka, where they saw an unarmed resident riding a bicycle and talking on the phone.

It claims the suspect was ordered to kill the civilian to prevent him revealing the Russians' presence, and fired several shots through the open window of the car at the civilian's head.

The man died on the spot.

The statement did not say how he was captured, nor elaborate on evidence that led to the charges.

The SBU Security Service of Ukraine conducted the investigation into the case, it said.

Shishimarin and his legal team could not be reached for comment ahead of the hearing.

Kyiv has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians during the invasion.

It claims to have identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.

Russia denies targeting civilians, and says Kyiv has staged war crimes to smear its forces.

The Kremlin told reporters on Friday that it had no information about a trial.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation" to disarm the country and protect it from fascists.

Kyiv and its Western backers say that is a false pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression.

The court is set to reconvene on May 18.

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