Ukraine identifies over 8,000 cases of suspected war crimes since Russia's invasion
Ukrainian investigators have identified more than 8,000 cases of suspected war crimes since Russia's invasion, Ukraine prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova told a German TV channel on Thursday (April 29 Philippine time).
"It's actually 8,600 cases only about war crimes, and more than 4,000 cases that are connected with war crimes," Venediktova told the Deutsche Welle broadcaster.
Venediktova has been investigating and tallying the mounting cases of suspected crimes by Russian forces since their invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
There are now more than 8,000 investigators gathering evidence on the ground, she said, including state security services, national police and foreign investigators.
The alleged crimes documented include "killing civilians, bombing of civilian infrastructure, torture" and "sexual crimes" that are being reported in the "occupied territory of Ukraine," Venediktova said.
Investigators have no access to occupied territories such as Mariupol, Donetsk or Lugansk, but "we can interview people who were evacuated from those territories," she said.
They are also using "radio connections and audio connections of the occupants."
At a UN session in New York on Wednesday (April 28 PH time), a senior US official had also spoke of "credible information" that war crimes may have been committed in Donetsk.
"We now have credible information that a Russian military unit operating in the vicinity of Donetsk executed Ukrainians who were attempting to surrender, rather than take them into custody," said Beth Van Schaack, US ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice.
"If true, this would be in violation of a core principle of the law of war," the official added.
Venediktova herself has spent the last two months travelling the length and breadth of unoccupied Ukraine gathering evidence.
In an interview with AFP in March, she described Russian President Vladimir Putin as the "main war criminal of the 21st century."
Cases she had already begun investigating at that point included a maternity hospital wrecked by shelling and a burnt-out theatre that had been sheltering children.
Her office also announced Thursday (April 29 PH time) that 10 Russian soldiers were under investigation on suspicion of war crimes in Bucha where dozens of bodies in civilian clothes were found after Russian troops retreated.
Venediktova said the cases will be prosecuted in Ukraine's domestic courts. But the highest prize would be conviction in an international court.
Ukraine is not a member of the International Criminal Court but it has accepted its jurisdiction in the past, leaving the door open to a tribunal. (AFP)