Investigator says Russia committed war crimes in Ukraine

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  • Children were raped and locked up in Ukraine, report says
  • Investigators liaise with war crimes tribunal on findings
  • Russia has consistently dismissed accusations of abuse
  • The Commission will then examine the alleged forcible transfers

GENEVA, Sept 23 (Reuters) – War crimes including rape, torture, execution and kidnapping of children have been committed by Russia in areas it occupied in Ukraine, the leader said on Friday. of an investigative body mandated by the United Nations.

The commission is one of the first international bodies to draw a conclusion based on on-the-ground evidence. Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Russian soldiers of a litany of abuses since the Feb. 24 invasion, but Moscow has routinely dismissed the allegations as a smear campaign.

“Based on the evidence gathered by the Commission, it has concluded that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine,” Erik Mose, who heads the Ukraine Commission of Inquiry, told the Human Rights Council. United Nations man in Geneva.

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He did not give an estimate of the number of crimes that had taken place, but said in a later interview that “a large number” were committed by Russia and only two cases by Ukraine relating to ill-treatment inflicted on Russian soldiers.

Russia denies deliberately attacking civilians during what it calls its “special military operation”.

Russia was called upon to respond to the charges at the council meeting, but its seat remained empty. There was no immediate official reaction from Moscow.

Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Investigators from the commission, set up by the Rights Council in March, visited 27 locations and interviewed more than 150 victims and witnesses in areas of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy formerly held by Russia.

They found evidence of a large number of executions, including bodies with their hands tied, throats slit and gunshot wounds to the head, Mose said.

He said investigators had identified victims of sexual violence between the ages of 4 and 82. While some Russian soldiers had used sexual violence as a strategy, the commission “did not establish any general pattern to this effect”, Mose added.

In reaction to the speech, several countries suggested that the abuses amounted to crimes against humanity. “So far, we have not concluded that there were crimes against humanity,” Mose said, adding that these were preliminary findings and that evidence gathering and analysis will continue. were continuing.

‘DARK WORLD’

The committee will then turn its attention to allegations of “filtration” camps in Russian-occupied areas for the treatment of Ukrainian prisoners as well as allegations of forcible transfer of persons and adoption of Ukrainian children in Russia.

Ukraine and some other countries have urged the commission to also investigate a mass burial site near the eastern Ukrainian town of Izium where hundreds of bodies were found. Read more

“If left unaddressed, (Russia’s violations) will drag us into a dark world of impunity and permissiveness,” Ukrainian envoy Anton Korynevych told the council via video link. Mose later said they intended to investigate the Izium graves. Read more

Sometimes investigations launched by the council can be used in national and international courts, as in the case of a former Syrian intelligence officer jailed for state-sponsored torture in Germany in January.

Mose said he was in touch with the International Criminal Court about the commission’s findings. The body is due to submit a full report to the board at the end of its term in March 2023, including a possible list of perpetrators and recommendations on how to hold them to account.

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Additional reporting by Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam Editing by Rachel More, William Maclean, Andrew Cawthorne and Andrew Heavens

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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