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Ukraine prosecutor opens investigation into Russian air strikes

Ukraine’s top prosecutor on Thursday informed that his office had opened criminal proceedings relating to Russian missile strikes that struck Kyiv and other cities across Ukraine this week.

Speaking at a joint press conference with International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan in The Hague, Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin described the strikes taking place since Monday as “a classic act of terror” by Russia.

He said the number exceeding 112 Russian missile strikes, Moscow’s biggest aerial offensive since the start of its invasion on February 24, has so far killed 17 people and injured 93.

“All of the hits of every missile, every drone, every damage of civil infrastructure, every (…) Ukrainian who was killed or wounded by these missile attacks, all of them are documented and criminal proceedings were registered and opened,” he said.

Russia has repeatedly denied deliberately attacking civilians in Ukraine. Moscow also denies their violating international law and has dismissed any allegations by Kyiv that Russian soldiers have carried out war crimes.

In the recently liberated Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine prosecutors had found at least 11 burial sites including one mass grave near the town of Izium and had exhumed 457 bodies across the sites, Gen. Kostin said.

An additional two mass graves were found in the Lyman region with some 154 people, Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, buried there, he added.

The prosecutor’s office has 28 investigative teams on the ground in the recently liberated regions, where Kostin said retreating Russian troops had left behind evidence of illegal detention and torture of civilians and illegal deportations.

ICC prosecutor Khan praised his Ukrainian counterpart and his own ICC investigation team on the ground for continuing to do their jobs “as missiles rained down” this week.

Khan, who opened an ICC investigation in March, wasn’t yet ready to respond on being asked when his office expected to file its first case, saying he would only move forward “when the evidence is sufficient”.

Khan and Kostin spoke after meeting the Eurojust European prosecutor’s organisation, which set up a joint investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine with the participation of Ukraine, the ICC and six European Union countries.

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