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Russian accused of killing civilian is first to face trial for war crimes

The war in Ukraine is far from over but the alleged war crimes trials have already begun as the first Russian soldier is brought to court.

The Ukrainian court today held a preliminary hearing after a 21-year-old Russian soldier was charged with the murder of a 62-year-old Ukrainian civilian.

The defendant, a Russian tank commander who gave his name as Vadim Shishimarin, has been accused of "violations of the laws and norms of war”.

State prosecutor Andriy Synyuk told reporters after the hearing: "This is the first case today. But soon there will be a lot of these cases."

The defendant declined to enter a plea at today's hearing, but will do so at a later date, his lawyer Viktor Ovsyannikov said.

After the armoured column he was travelling in came under fire from Ukrainian forces on February 28, Shishimarin is alleged to have stolen a civilian’s car and driven to a village to the east of Kyiv.

There, the Russians saw an unarmed man riding a bicycle and talking on his phone, the court heard.

Prosecutors allege that Shishimarin had been told to kill the civilian to prevent him from revealing that Russian troops were in the area.

They say he fired several shots at a civilian through the open window of the car with an assault rifle, killing him instantly.

Today, Shishimarin wore a casual blue and grey hoodie as he was led into the courtroom by police and placed in a glass booth.

The court was told that Shishimarin was a tank commander in the Kantemirovskaya tank division from the Moscow region.

The SBU Security Service of Ukraine conducted and investigation into the case. If convicted , Shishimarin could face a life sentence.

A Ukrainian government statement says Russian military personnel have carried out over 10,000 possible war crimes including rape and murder.

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Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said yesterday there were many examples of possible war crimes since the Russian invasion and at least 1,000 bodies had been recovered so far in the Kyiv region.

Last month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on April 25 that it would take part in a joint team with Ukrainian, Polish and Lithuanian prosecutors investigating war crimes allegations against Russian forces.

The court will reconvene on May 18, the judge said.

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