A court in central Ukraine on Tuesday sentenced two Russian soldiers to 11 and a half years in prison for shelling a city in the northeast of the country during the war. It was the second conviction by Ukrainian courts for war crimes since the large-scale invasion of Russia began in February.
The court found the soldiers, Aleksandr Boikin and Aleksandr Ivanov, an artillery commander and gunner, guilty of shelling the city of Derhachi, north of Kharkov, from Russia.
“The guilt of Bobikin and Ivanov has been fully proven,” Judge Evhen Bolybok said in the courtroom of the Kotelva District Court in central Ukraine.
When the proceedings began last week, both men pleaded guilty to membership of a unit that attacked Derhachi with shelling from the Belgorod region, on the Russian side of the border. The men and their unit had then entered Ukraine and continued to attack the city. They later surrendered to the Ukrainian authorities.
Prosecutors said the soldiers had shelled an educational facility, although no casualties had been recorded. Defense attorneys argued that both suspects had followed orders.
The two soldiers were charged with violating the laws and customs of war. The charge is laid down in the Geneva Conventions, to which Ukraine is a party. Prosecutors had demanded a 12-year sentence.
Derhachi, like Kharkov and the other northern suburbs, continues to be regularly targeted by Russian positions less than 10 miles away. Homes are vandalized daily, Vyacheslav Fysun, a city councilman, said when New York Times reporters paid a visit over the weekend. Hundreds of people still live in underground shelters.
The verdict is part of Ukraine’s major undertaking to account for the destruction and death wrought by Russian soldiers since February. Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Irina Venediktova, has said at least 11,000 investigations are ongoing that could lead to charges for war crimes.
Ms. Venediktova also announced Monday that the first case of wartime rape had been brought to trial. “Mikhail Romanov will be tried for the murder of a civilian man and the sexual abuse of his wife,” Ms Venediktova wrote on Facebook on Monday.
The prosecutor said the suspect was a soldier of the 239th regiment of the 90th Guards Rifle Vitebsk-Novgorod Division of the Russian Armed Forces.
In March, during the occupation of the Brovary district of the Kiev region: “He shot and killed the owner of a house while drunk and raped his wife, along with another resident immediately after the murder,” wrote Ms. Venediktova. “They threatened the woman with possible violence against her child.”