Ukraine: EU Presidency wants war crimes tribunal

Ukraine: EU Presidency wants war crimes tribunal

The Czech EU Presidency on Saturday called for the establishment of an international war crimes tribunal after hundreds of bodies were discovered near Izium, a town in Ukraine retaken from the Russians.

“In the 21st century, such attacks on civilians are unthinkable and abhorrent,” Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said on Twitter on Saturday.

“We must not ignore it. We are for the punishment of all war criminals,” he added, “I call for the swift creation of a special international tribunal.”

Ukrainian authorities reported Friday that “450 bodies of civilians with traces of violent death and torture” were buried in a forest on the outskirts of Izium.

“There are several bodies with their hands tied behind their backs and one person is buried with a rope around his neck. Obviously, these people were tortured and executed,” regional governor Oleg Synegoubov said on Telegram.

In the same spot, an AFP journalist was able to see at least one corpse with their hands tied with rope.

According to Ukraine’s Human Rights Commissioner Dmytro Loubinets, “probably more than 1,000 Ukrainian citizens were tortured and killed in the liberated areas of the Kharkiv region”. The head of the Ukrainian police, Igor Klymenko, announced the discovery of 10 “torture rooms” in places retaken from the Russians in the Kharkiv region, including six in Izioum.

Summary Graves discovered in a forest in Izioum, a town in eastern Ukraine retaken from the Russians, on September 16, 2022 (AFP – Juan BARRETO)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the crimes of a Russian army made up of “murderers” and “torturers” and promised them “terribly just punishment” in a video published on Telegram on Friday.

The announcement of this macabre discovery sparked a new wave of outrage in the West, just over five months after the Russian army, which was driven out of the vicinity of Kyiv, left behind hundreds of corpses of civilians, many bearing traces of torture and summary executions, particularly in the village of Boutcha.

– “The world must react” –

“The world needs to respond to all of this. Russia repeated in Izium what it had done in Boutcha,” Zelenskyy said in a video message on Friday evening, welcoming the UN’s announcement that it would send a team on the ground to join the Ukrainian investigation.

The United States and the European Union expressed their outrage and blamed the Russian leadership.

“Russia, its leaders and all those involved in the continued violations of international law and international humanitarian law in Ukraine will be held accountable,” European Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said in a statement on Friday.

Even before the graves and mass graves of Izioum were discovered, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to appear before the international judiciary for war crimes.

For his part, US President Joe Biden again warned his Russian counterpart against the use of chemical or nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

– Biden Warning –

“It would change the course of the war like it had not since World War II,” warned the American head of state in an interview with CBS on Friday evening.

“Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it,” Biden urged, promising a “substantive” response from the United States if that step were taken.

Fighting and shelling continue on the ground where Western-armed Ukrainian forces, after stemming Russian advances in the east of the country, have recaptured thousands of square kilometers thanks to a counter-offensive in the north-east.

The Russians “got angry because our army pushed them back in their counteroffensive,” estimated Svitlana Chpouk, a 42-year-old worker in Kryvyi Rig, a southern town threatened by Russian fire on a hydraulic reservoir upstream on the Ingulets River.

In the Kharkiv region, an 11-year-old girl was killed by Russian rocket fire on the city of Chuyguiv, Governor Oleg Synegoubov said.

– factory bombed –

Ukraine: EU Presidency wants war crimes tribunal
Ukrainian tanks near Izioum (east) on September 16, 2022 (AFP – Juan BARRETO)

A thermal power plant was “bombed by Russian invaders” on Saturday morning in Mykolaivka, Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk region (east) said on Telegram, noting that Ukrainian firefighters were fighting the blaze there and that the bombardment had led to cuts in drinking water .

“The occupiers are deliberately targeting the infrastructure in the area to try to inflict as much damage as possible, primarily on the civilian population,” he accused.

He had previously reported that two civilians had been killed and 11 injured by Russian fire in the past 24 hours.

In the neighboring region of Dnipropetrovsk, “the Russians fired at the Nikopol district all night with Grads (several rocket launchers, editor’s note) and heavy artillery,” said local governor Valentin Reznitchenko, pointing out that there were no injuries, but caused considerable property damage.

However, according to local assembly leader Mykola Loukachouk, Russian fire has killed two people and injured three in the past 24 hours.

In the south, “one person died in Dmitrivka after enemy shelling,” said Mykolaiv Region Governor Vitaly Kim.

Russian invasion of Ukraine: the situation in the east (AFP - )
Russian invasion of Ukraine: the situation in the east (AFP – )

The Russian army, which denies attacking civilian infrastructure or residential areas, claims Moscow carried out “high-precision strikes” against Ukrainian positions in the Mykolayiv and Kharkiv regions.

In Kyiv on Saturday, hundreds of Ukrainians attended a farewell ceremony at the Kyiv National Opera for former principal dancer and teacher Oleksandr Chapoval, who was killed on September 12 at the age of 47 in the east of the country while volunteering for the fight against the Russians.


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