December 3, 2022

Ukraine is investigating more than 25,000 cases of suspected war crimes since the Russian invasion five months ago.

Yuri Belousov, head of the war crimes department of the Prosecutor General’s Office, said 135 people have already been charged, although only 15 of them are now in custody and 120 are still at large.

He told Reuters news agency that 13 cases have been brought to the courts and seven judgments have been issued since the invasion launched by Vladimir Putin on February 24.

In May, a 21-year-old Russian soldier became the first person to be convicted in a war crimes trial in Ukraine. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of an unarmed civilian.

“Sometimes they are asked why such low-ranking officers are being prosecuted. It’s only because they are physically here,” Belousov said.

“If the generals are here physically and we manage to capture them [them]We will certainly prosecute the generals.”

Reports indicated that many civilians were left dead in the street in Bucha, some with handcuffs, and satellite imagery revealed what appeared to be a mass grave in the town.

US President Joe Biden has called Putin a “war criminal” and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has referred to the situation in Bucha as an act of genocide.

The first independent investigation into allegations of Russian violations of humanitarian law in Ukraine, published in April, found evidence of multiple war crimes.

A Ukrainian soldier looks at body bags as priests arrive at a mass grave in the grounds around St. Andrew’s Church in Bucha

(AFP via Getty Images)

The initial OSCE report found that the bombing of a children’s hospital and theater in the besieged port city of Mariupol amounted to war crimes, as did the forced deportation of thousands of Ukrainians to Russia.

Investigators said there were “credible reports” of civilians who were detained by Russian forces and subjected to ill-treatment amounting to torture.

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