Ukraine has identified thousands of suspected war criminals in the eastern Donbass region where Russian forces are putting offensive pressure on them, Kiev’s chief prosecutor said on Tuesday.
Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova says there have been about 15,000 cases in the industrial zone across Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on February 24.
“Of course we’ve started thousands of lawsuits about what we see in Donbass,” Venediktova told a news conference in The Hague during a meeting with international opponents.
“If we talk about war crimes, it is about the possible transfer of people, we have started a number of cases about the possible transfer of children, adults to different parts of the Russian Federation,” he said.
“Then of course, we can talk about torturing people, killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure.”
Venediktova told a news conference at the headquarters of the EU judicial body Eurojust that Ukrainian authorities did not have access to the Russian-controlled territory of Donbass, but were evacuating and interviewing prisoners of war.
He added that Ukraine has identified 15,000 war crimes since the Russian invasion and 200 to 300 are coming in every day.
The prosecutor general says Ukraine has identified 600 suspects for the “anchor” offenses of aggression, including “high-ranking military, politicians and propaganda agents for the Russian Federation”.
About 80 suspects have been identified for war crimes on Ukrainian soil, he added.
A Ukrainian court on Tuesday sentenced two Russian soldiers to 11-and-a-half years in prison for firing on civilians, and sentenced another to life in prison for killing a civilian earlier this month.
– ‘Important Day’ –
Three other European countries – Latvia, Estonia and Slovakia – joined an international investigation into war crimes in Ukraine on Tuesday.
Prosecutors from Poland, Lithuania and the Hague-based International Criminal Court are already part of the team.
“Today is an important day that (the team) has three new members,” ICC prosecutor Karim Khan told a news conference along with the Ukrainian prosecutor.
Khan added that the ICC is set to open a field office in Kiev in the next few weeks to create a more permanent basis for investigations in Ukraine.
“We can’t fly and we can’t fly,” Khan said.
The ICC sent earlier this month the largest team of investigators in the court’s 20-year history to investigate suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Venediktova said he hoped his country would handle “95 percent” of cases, but that the ICC could deal with some bigger or more difficult issues.
The Russian invasion and the subsequent discovery of hundreds of murders in places like the Kyiv suburb of Bucha have provoked unprecedented international investigative efforts.
“Never in the history of armed conflict has the legal community responded so strongly,” said Ladislav Hamran, president of Eurojust.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)