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 U.S. 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."

United States Attorney General Merrick Garland. (Reuters)
United States Attorney General Merrick Garland. (Reuters)

Venediktova said earlier this year that her office is documenting and cataloguing evidence of suspected deliberate bombing of civilian buildings, hospitals and other infrastructure by Russian pilots, as well as mass graves, 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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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.

Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin, 21, pleaded guilty to fatally shooting an unarmed civilian in Ukraine. (Reuters)
Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin, 21, pleaded guilty to fatally shooting an unarmed civilian in Ukraine. (Reuters)

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