Multiple organisations — including The European Union and Human Rights Watch (HRW) — have accused Russia of committing war crimes in the town of Bucha, just outside Kyiv, after pictures were released showing dead bodies lining the streets there.
Ukraine has found 410 bodies in towns near Kyiv as part of an investigation into possible war crimes by Russia, but some witnesses are so traumatised by their ordeal that they are unable to speak, the country’s top prosecutor says.
After Russia withdrew from some areas around Kyiv, the mayor in Bucha, a liberated town 37 kilometres north-west of the capital, said that 300 residents had been killed by Russian forces while Chechen fighters controlled the area.
Ukrainian prosecutors were only able to enter the towns of Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel for the first time on Sunday and they need more time to work out the extent of the crimes, Prosecutor General Iryna Venedyktova said.
“We need to work with witnesses,” Ms Venedyktova said.
“People today are so stressed that they are physically unable to speak.”
She said 140 of the bodies had been examined so far but that she would be asking the Health Ministry to provide as many forensic experts as possible to a field hospital in the Kyiv region.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s leadership was responsible for civilian killings in Bucha, outside Kyiv, where bodies were found lying in the street after the town was retaken by Ukrainian forces.
He also vowed to investigate and prosecute all Russian “crimes” in Ukraine, saying he had created a “special mechanism” to do so.
“I want all the leaders of the Russian Federation to see how their orders are being fulfilled. These kinds of orders. This kind of fulfilment. And there is a common responsibility. For these killings, for this torture, for arms blown off by blasts. For the shots in the back of the head,” Zelensky said, switching from Ukrainian to Russian, in a video address.
“This is how the Russian state will be seen now.”
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