Russian soldiers on trial have asked the victim’s widow to pardon him

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KYIV, Ukraine – A Russian soldier facing trial for the first time since the start of the war in Ukraine testified on Thursday that he shot a civilian at the behest of two officers and asked for forgiveness for his victim’s widow.

Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin told the court that the officer insisted that the Ukrainian man, who was talking on his cellphone, could identify their location to Ukrainian forces.

The 21-year-old sergeant could go to jail on February 28, four days after the Russian attack, if convicted of shooting a Ukrainian man in the head with an open car window in a village in the northeastern Sumi region.

Overwhelmed, Shishimarin said he had initially disobeyed his immediate commanding officer’s order to shoot the unarmed civilian but had no choice but to follow the order when it was forcibly repeated by another officer.

Shishimarin admitted the allegations during a hearing on Wednesday.

On Thursday, he asked the victim’s widow, who was present at the trial, to forgive him for what he had done.

“I understand you can’t forgive me, but I’m begging you to forgive me,” Shishimarin said.

The woman, Katrina Shelipova, said her 62-year-old husband, Alexander Shelipov, went out to check on what was happening outside the house. Shortly afterwards, when the shooting stopped, she went outside to find that her husband had been shot dead outside their home.

“He was my everything. He was my defender,” he said.

Shelipova told the court that Shishimarin was liable to life imprisonment for killing her husband, but added that she would not mind if she exchanged them for part of a possible prisoner exchange with Russia for the surrendered Ukrainian guards at the Azovostal steel plant in Mariupol.

Shishimarin, a captive member of a Russian tank unit, is being tried under a section of the Ukrainian Criminal Code that addresses the laws and customs of war.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova has previously said that her office was preparing war crimes cases against 41 Russian soldiers, including bombings of civilian infrastructure, killing of civilians, rape and looting. It was not immediately clear how many of the suspects were in Ukraine’s hands and how many would be tried in absentia.

As Ukraine’s inaugural war crimes case, Shishimarin’s trial was closely monitored. Investigators are gathering evidence of possible war crimes to bring him before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

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