Ukrainian widow confronts Russian soldier who killed her husband at war crimes trial

ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger reports from the war crime trial in Kyiv, Ukraine

There are cameras and journalists packed into every last corner of the courtroom, when the widow of the man shot dead by the Russian soldier stands to address him directly. 

Kateryna Shelypova takes a moment to compose herself, before asking: “How did it feel to kill my husband?”

The young man in the dock, still wearing battered Russian army boots with his prison issue tracksuit, drops his head before looking up to meet her gaze.

“I plead guilty,” says Vadim Shishimarin.

“I know that you will never be able to forgive me, but nevertheless I ask you for forgiveness for all that I have done.” 

Oleksandr Shelypov and wife Kateryna on their wedding day. Credit: ITV News

Kateryna, whose eyes are red-rimmed, wrings her handkerchief and sits down. She has already been asked by the judge what punishment would fit the loss of her husband. 

“A life sentence," she says, her voice steady. Then, unprompted, she continues, “but if he is exchanged for one of our captured fighters, I won’t mind that.”

It is an outside possibility. The Ukrainians at least, have talked about a wider prisoner exchange after hundreds of their fighters at the Azovstal steelworks fell into Russian hands this week. 

That means whatever the court decides Shishimarin's ultimate fate may be decided outside it. 

But Kateryna, exhausted as she is by war and grief, has stood in front of the world’s press and described what it means to lose the husband she called her defender.

“He was my everything,” she says, as the Russian soldier young enough to be her grandson looks at the floor.

It is a searing reminder that behind every death reported in this war, there is a brutal human cost.

And even when justice can be delivered, it cannot bring back what's been lost. 

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