Ukraine’s top prosecutor on Wednesday announced the first war crimes trial in Russia’s ongoing invasion of the sovereign nation.
In a statement, Iryna Venediktova, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, said that Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old Russian soldier who is in Ukrainian custody, will stand trial for allegedly killing an unarmed 62-year-old resident of Chupakhivka, a village in northeastern Ukraine, on Feb. 28.
According to Venediktova, the male victim, who was not identified, was pushing his bike by the side of a road “just a few dozen meters from his own home” when he was shot in the head by Shishimarin.
The prosecutor’s office said Ukrainian investigators collected “evidence of his involvement in violation of the laws and customs of war combined with premeditated murder.” The office also released a blurred photo of Shishimarin. He faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted of the war crimes charge.
News of the first war crimes trial in the 11-week conflict comes amid calls from world leaders for the international community to hold Russia accountable for alleged war crimes.
In early April, President Biden said that Russian President Vladimir Putin should be tried for war crimes based on mounting evidence that civilians had been slaughtered in Bucha, Ukraine.
A week after Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, the International Criminal Court formally opened an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine. That investigation has yet to result in a trial. The trial announced by Ukraine on Wednesday is not part of the international probe.
“This is my purpose: To make Putin and his forces pay for what they have done,” Venediktova tweeted last month. “While courts around the world are working to hold Russia accountable, the bulk of the investigation — and the largest number of prosecutions — will be done by Ukraine itself.”
She said Wednesday that 10,785 alleged war crimes have been registered with her office. At least 217 children are reported to have been killed in the war.
According to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, at least 3,496 Ukrainian civilians have been killed since the invasion. The agency believes the actual death toll is probably much higher.