Ukrainian prosecutors ready to launch first war crimes trials in Russian conflict | Ukraine

Three Russian prisoners of war accused of targeting or murdering civilians, and a soldier who allegedly killed a man before raping his wife, are expected to be in the dock in the conflict’s first war crimes trials Ukrainian, revealed the Ukrainian Prosecutor General.

More than 10,700 crimes have been recorded since the start of the war by Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office, headed by Iryna Venediktova, and a handful of cases have now been filed or are ready for submission in what marks a decisive moment two months after the start of the war. .

Vadim Shysimarin, a 21-year-old Kantemirovskaya Armored Division commander who is currently being held in Ukraine, is expected to be the first to stand trial for the alleged murder of a 68-year-old man.

It is alleged that Shysimarin, a sergeant, was fighting in the Sumy region of northeastern Ukraine when he killed a civilian on February 18 in the village of Chupakhivka. He is accused of driving a stolen car with four other soldiers as he sought to flee Ukrainian fighters, then shooting the unarmed man on a bicycle while he was talking on the phone. He was ordered “to kill a civilian so he wouldn’t report them to Ukrainian defenders,” according to prosecutors.

The crime allegedly took place near the victim’s house and was committed using an AK-74. The case was filed this week in criminal court. “He’s there [in Ukraine]we have it,” Venediktova said, speaking from her heavily fortified headquarters in Kyiv.

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A spokesperson added: “Prosecutors and investigators from the SBU [Ukrainian secret services] having gathered sufficient evidence of his involvement in violation of the laws and customs of war combined with premeditated murder. For these actions, he faces 10 to 15 years in prison or life imprisonment.

Separately, on February 24, the day of the launch of Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation”, it is alleged that two Russian soldiers using a Soviet truck-mounted 122 mm multiple rocket launcher carried out artillery bombardments on houses and civil buildings in the village of Kozacha Lopan in Kharkiv district. They also reportedly hit an “educational institution” in the town of Dergachiv, Belgorod in Russia.

The soldiers then crossed the Ukrainian border and continued to shell targets in the Kharkiv region, it is claimed, but they were taken prisoner by Ukrainian forces and are now awaiting trial. Their case, outlining the charges of violation of the laws and customs of war, has also been filed with a criminal procedure court in Ukraine, but the names and photographs have not yet been released.

Mikhail Romanov, the Russian soldier charged with rape and murder, according to the attorney general’s office. Photo: c/o Office of the Attorney General

In a latest case that is likely heading for trial in absentia, a soldier named Mikhail Romanov, who has a large bear tattoo on his chest, is accused of breaking into a house in March in a village in Brovarsky region, killing a man and then repeatedly raping his wife while “threatening her and her minor child with violence and weapons”. A second soldier also raped the 33-year-old woman, who has a four-year-old son.

The case has not yet been filed in court, but the prosecutor’s office was able to provide a social media photograph that was used by the victim to identify the man who allegedly assaulted her. Romanov’s apparent partner was contacted for comment by this newspaper but she did not respond to questions.

Of Romanov, Venediktova said: “Now we don’t know where he is – maybe he’s still fighting, maybe he’s on rotation in the Russian Federation, maybe ‘he is dead. We don’t know but we want to prosecute him in absentia. She added: “We want to show these criminals that we will find them. And we will prevent the death of other people in other territories.

Venediktova, who traveled to the border with Poland on Monday to meet UK Attorney General Suella Braverman, who provided her with a former International Criminal Court judge as an adviser, said 36 suspects of identified war crimes were currently being prosecuted, at different levels. of progress.

Venediktova, whose office has a dozen hotlines, including one to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said she fears many more crimes will emerge from the eastern and southern Ukrainian territories currently occupied by Russia, including the devastated port city of Mariupol.

Venediktova, who keeps on her desk a casing of a Russian cluster bomb discovered in Kherson, a city in southern Ukraine, said countless atrocities were being committed.

She said: “I have a theory that the Russian Federation decided that when they came to Ukraine everyone would be happy to see them, but when they realized that the whole population was fighting against them, against a common enemy, they decided to do everything to scare the population.

In late March, videos surfaced of alleged war crimes committed by Ukrainian soldiers against Russian prisoners of war, including a film that appeared to show three soldiers shot in the legs. Venediktova said her office continues to investigate these and other allegations.

She said: “We will not act like barbarians but like people who understand the rule of law. We are still investigating, but as I understand it, some facts might be wrong. [But] there is not just one case where we have opened investigations, we have several.

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