AG Merrick Garland visits Ukraine to meet with top prosecutor leading war crimes inquiry

Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced visit to Ukraine Tuesday for a meeting with Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova to discuss the continuing effort to identify and apprehend suspected war criminals, according to a Justice Department official.

Earlier this year, the attorney general pledged US support for an international campaign to hold war criminals accountable for atrocities being documented by Ukrainian authorities.

“America, and the world, are watching very closely what is happening in Ukraine,” Garland said during a virtual meeting last month with his Ukrainian counterpart and other allies. “Every day, we see the heartbreaking images and read the horrific accounts of brutality … But there is no hiding place for war criminals.”

Venediktova said earlier this year that her office is documenting and cataloging evidence of suspected deliberate bombing of civilian buildings, hospitals and other infrastructure by Russian pilots, as well as mass serious reports of civilians shot at close range with their hands bound, bodies showing signs of torture and brutal accounts of rape and other forms of sexual violence.

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May 23, 2022: Russian sergeant Vadim Shishimarin sits in the defendant's box on the last day of his trial on charges of war crimes for having killed a civilian, at a courthouse in Kyiv.  "The court has found that (Vadim) Shishimarin is guilty and sentences him to life imprisonment,"  judge Sergiy Agafonov said.  - A Kyiv court ruled that a 21-year-old Russian soldier who killed a civilian was guilty of war crimes and handed him a life sentence, in the first verdict against Moscow's forces since their invasion.  Shishimarin, a Russian sergeant, admitted early in court to killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov in the first days of the Kremlin's offensive in northeast Ukraine.

May 23, 2022: Russian sergeant Vadim Shishimarin sits in the defendant’s box on the last day of his trial on charges of war crimes for having killed a civilian, at a courthouse in Kyiv. “The court has found that (Vadim) Shishimarin is guilty and sentences him to life imprisonment,” judge Sergiy Agafonov said. – A Kyiv court ruled that a 21-year-old Russian soldier who killed a civilian was guilty of war crimes and handed him a life sentence, in the first verdict against Moscow’s forces since their invasion. Shishimarin, a Russian sergeant, admitted early in court to killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov in the first days of the Kremlin’s offensive in northeast Ukraine.

In the first war crimes trial last month, a Russian soldier pleaded guilty to fatally shooting an unarmed civilian in the northeastern Sumy region four days after the invasion began.

Vadim Shishimarin, 21, was convicted in the fatal attack on a 62-year-old Ukrainian man. Shishimarin was among a group of Russian troops who fled Ukrainian forces on Feb. 28, prosecutors say.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Merrick Garland visits Ukraine to discuss war crimes investigation

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