Ukraine’s prosecutors are ready to start the first war crimes trials in the Russian conflict

Three Russian prisoners of war accused of targeting or killing civilians, and a soldier who allegedly killed a man before raping his wife, are due to be indicted in Iraq’s first war crimes trial. Ukraine Conflict, the Ukrainian Prosecutor revealed.

More than 10,700 crimes have been recorded since the war began by the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office, led by Irina Venediktova, and few cases have now been filed or are ready for submission in what marks a watershed moment two months into the war. .

Vadim Shesimarin, the 21-year-old commander of the Kantemirovskaya Tank Division, who is currently detained in Ukraine, is expected to be the first to face trial over the alleged murder of a 68-year-old man.

Chesimarin, a sergeant, was allegedly fighting in the Sumy region in northeastern Ukraine when he killed a civilian on February 28 in the village of Chubakhivka. He is accused of driving a stolen car with four other soldiers while trying to flee the Ukrainian fighters and then shooting the unarmed man on a bicycle while talking on his phone. According to the prosecutors, he was ordered “to kill a civilian so as not to inform the Ukrainian defenders of them.”

The crime is said to have taken place near the victim’s home and perpetrated using an AK-74. The case was filed this week in criminal court. “he is here [in Ukraine]”We have it,” said Venediktova, speaking from her heavily fortified headquarters in Kyiv.

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A spokesperson added: “SBU prosecutors and investigators [Ukrainian secret services] Sufficient evidence was gathered that he was involved in violating the laws and customs of war as well as premeditated murder. For these acts, he faces 10 to 15 years in prison or life imprisonment.”

Separately, on February 24, the day Vladimir Putin began his “special military operation,” two Russian soldiers allegedly using a Soviet 122mm truck-mounted rocket launcher fired artillery at homes and civilian buildings in the village of Kozacha Luban in the Kharkiv district. They also allegedly hit an “educational institution” in the city of Dergachiv, from Belgorod in Russia.

The soldiers later crossed the Ukrainian border and continued to bomb targets in the Kharkiv region, allegedly, but they were captured by Ukrainian forces and are now awaiting trial. Their case file, which includes charges of violating the laws and customs of war, has also been submitted to Ukraine’s Criminal Procedure Court, but the names and photos have yet to be released.

Mikhail Romanov, the Russian soldier accused of rape and murder, according to the prosecutor's office
Mikhail Romanov, the Russian soldier accused of rape and murder, according to the prosecutor’s office. Photo: c / o OTP

In a recent case possibly heading for a trial in absentia, a soldier named Mikhail Romanov, who has a large tattoo of a bear on his chest, is accused of breaking into a house in March in a village in the Provarsky district, killing a man and then repeatedly raping his wife “while threatening her and her underage child with violence and weapons.” A second soldier also raped a 33-year-old woman with a 4-year-old son.

The case has not yet been brought in court, but the attorney general’s office was able to provide a social media photo that the victim used to identify the man who allegedly attacked her. This newspaper contacted Romanov’s apparent partner for comment but did not respond to questions.

About Romanov, Venediktova said: “Now we don’t know where he is – maybe he is still fighting, maybe he is in rotation in the Russian Federation, maybe he is dead. We don’t know but we want to try him in absentia. She added, “We want to prove to these criminals that we will find them. We will prevent the deaths of other people in other areas.”

Venediktova, who on Monday traveled to the border with Poland to meet Britain’s attorney general, Suila Braverman, who introduced her to a former ICC judge as an advisor, said 36 suspects identified for war crimes are currently being tried, at various levels. of progress.

Venediktova, whose office has dozens of hotlines, including one to Volodymyr Zelensky, said that she feared the emergence of many other crimes in the territories in eastern and southern Ukraine currently occupied by Russia, including The coastal city of Mariupol was destroyed.

Venediktova, who keeps the casing of a Russian cluster bomb found in Kherson, a city in southern Ukraine, on her desk, countless atrocities have been committed.

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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 in order to frighten the population.”

At the end of March, videos emerged of alleged war crimes committed by Ukrainian soldiers against Russian prisoners of war, including one that apparently showed three soldiers being shot in the legs. Venediktova said her office continues to investigate these and other allegations.

She said, “We will not act as barbarians but as people who understand the rule of law. We are still investigating but as I understand, some facts may be fake.” [But] There is not just one case in which we have started investigations, we have several cases.”