Russian soldier jailed for life for war crimes

STORY: A Ukraine court has sentenced a Russian soldier to life in jail for killing an unarmed civilian in the first war crimes trial arising from Moscow's invasion.

21-year-old tank commander Vadim Shishimarin pleaded guilty to killing Oleksandr Shelipov in Chupakhivka on February 28, four days after the invasion began.

The judge said Shishimarin was carrying out a "criminal order" by a soldier of higher rank when he fired several shots at the 62-year-old's head from an automatic weapon.

When asked previously if he had been obliged to follow that order, Shishimarin said "no."

JUDGE: "Has the person found guilty understood his verdict? You have the right appeal your sentence."

Shishimarin watched the proceedings silently from a reinforced glass box in the courtroom.

He showed no emotion as the verdict was delivered, and stood with his head bowed throughout the proceedings.

Shishmarin's lawyer said he would launch a legal appeal.

In court last week, Shishimarin acknowledged he was to blame and asked the victim's widow to forgive him.

Ukrainian state prosecutors said Shishimarin and four other Russian servicemen stole a car to escape after their column was targeted by Ukrainian forces.

After driving into Chupakhivka, the soldiers saw Shelipov riding a bicycle and talking on his phone.

Prosecutors say Shishimarin was ordered to kill Shelipov to prevent him reporting on their location.

The trial has huge symbolic significance for Ukraine.

Elsewhere during the conflict, Ukraine has consistently accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians and claims to have identified over 10,000 possible war crimes.

The International Criminal Court is also leading a team of prosecutors investigating such allegations in the country.

Russia denies targeting civilians or any involvement in war crimes in what it calls a "special military operation."

The Kremlin did not immediately comment on Monday's verdict.

It has previously said that it has no information about the trial and that the absence of a diplomatic mission in Ukraine limits its ability to assist.

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