Russian soldier on trial for war crime ‘not guilty’ says lawyer

The Russian soldier tried in kyiv for war crimes in Ukraine “is not guilty”, said his lawyer on the third day of this first trial of its kind since the start of the Russian invasion, the verdict of which will be announced on Monday. While the accused young man had pleaded guilty on Wednesday, his lawyer, Viktor Ovsiannykov, asked the judges “to acquit his client”, notes an AFP journalist. “Given all the evidence and testimony, I believe that Vadim Chichimarine is not guilty of the crime with which he is charged,” he said during his closing argument.

“I want to apologize for what I did”

“I am sincerely sorry,” Sergeant Vadim Chichimarine, 21, said a few minutes later, who admitted Wednesday to killing Oleksandr Chelipov, a 62-year-old civilian, on February 28 in northeastern Ukraine. “I regret what I did,” added the young man, shaved head, from his glass cage. Before adding: “I was nervous in this situation. I did not want to kill.” “I want to apologize for what I did.”

The lawyer assured that his client did not want to carry out the order to shoot, arguing that he had not obeyed in the first time. The defense also stressed that he had surrendered voluntarily to the Ukrainian forces and did not deny the facts. The lawyer further assured that the soldier was only trying to save his life, placing the responsibility on his commanders.

The soldier “well aware” of his actions, according to the prosecutor

Arguments swept away by the prosecution who demanded life imprisonment. “He was carrying out a criminal order and was well aware of it,” said one of the prosecutors. Speaking in Russian, the soldier had an interpreter at his side who translated for him the words of other participants held in Ukrainian. According to the prosecution, Vadim Chichimarine was commanding a small unit within a tank division when his convoy was attacked.

With four other soldiers, the accused was traveling in a stolen car near the village of Chupakhivka, in the Sumy region in northeastern Ukraine. They had then crossed Oleksandr Chelipov, who was pushing his bicycle while telephoning, before Vadim Chichimarine shot him down. Already on Thursday, this soldier from Irkutsk in Siberia had “asked forgiveness” from the widow of Oleksandr Chelipov during a brief exchange between the two in the room of a court in kyiv, justifying his act by the “orders” received at this moment. The verdict of the trial is expected on Monday, the judge announced.

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