Ukraine’s dead pulled from mass grave as prosecutor vows to find ‘barbaric’ Russians

A war crimes prosecutor vowed to hunt down the ‘unimaginably barbaric’ Russian soldiers who massacred hundreds of civilians near Kyiv yesterday.

As he saw four more corpses being taken away from a mass grave of over 100 killed in stricken Bucha, Ukraine, War Crimes Prosecutor Andrii Turbor told the Mirror Online : “No matter how long it takes, time does not matter, we will catch those responsible for killing these innocent people.

“This was unimaginable barbarism resulting in the deaths of so many people who were harmless, children, elderly people, women, civilians.

“These people were Ukrainians and I am a Ukrainian – this is a matter of personal respect to do justice for these poor people.

“This morning we found a 75 to 80 year-old woman here. Who can imagine killing such a person? I cannot imagine it.”

War crimes investigator Andrii Turbor speaking where many bodies were recovered

This harrowingly grim place, a mass burial site behind St Andrew’s Church, in Bucha, 40 miles from Kyiv, should be a happy site for people to remember and pray for their dead.

But officials don’t screen off the horror here as they want the world to witness the depravity imposed on their people over weeks of brutality, Mirror Online reports.

Men who look drawn but determined probe for bodies, digging gently or calling for a JCB to remove the top soil, the remnants of shattered lives lying by the side of a mass grave.

An elderly lady’s brown carpet slipper, a woolen hat, some shoes, shirts, a jumper and blankets which have been hastily wrapped round corpses of men and women executed in the street and those who died shot or ill at home.

So many dead bodies littered Bucha’s streets and bases that Russian troops forced locals at gunpoint to bury their dead in mass graves within just 30 minutes.

Church officials claim more than 100 bodies lie in this site, 30 already taken away, 16 lying in black body bags on the ground before us and another four added during the afternoon.

It means a total of 50 corpses are now being examined by forensics experts who will document their injuries and prosecutors will match these with witness statements.

Bodies were recovered from a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine
Bodies were recovered from a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine

Prosecutor Turbor added: “This is difficult to work but any psychological effect is unimportant compared to the importance of catching who did this.

“You are talking about people being executed whilst they volunteered to help people with food and aid – how were they helping Ukraine’s military?

“People were shot in the head because in their homes they had Ukrainian flags. This is not a fascist emblem or anything like it. It’s a sign of pride in one’s nation.

“How could this be done to someone? It was so cruel and evil and yes, the barbarism of it makes me even more determined to do my job and catch them, no matter what it takes.”

Asked about the circumstances of their burial he said: “It was the locals who buried their friends and loved ones in this mass grave.

“They had no opportunity respectfully to bury the dead because of the situation.

“People in bases were forced to bury them here within just 30 minutes.

“There was just no time – it is truly awful that they were forced to do.”

As we watch this heart-rending scene one of the bagged up bodies appears smaller than the rest, perhaps between four and four and a half feet long, probably a child.

Another is a woman, her age impossible to gauge, her head apparently wrapped in cloth – and then a soldier who appears to have a bullet wound to the head.

Because of the need to dig them out sometimes an arm or their head pops out of the bag, whilst excavation workers try desperately to remain dignified and respectful.

They are taken away to an unknown location in a pickup truck.

Pushing his bicycle through the gaggle of officials, police and rescue workers, an old man approaches us, his head turning towards the body bags lying on the ground.

Mykola Horodetskyi, 77, is another old man, like so many others throughout Ukraine, who is looking for his son, who disappeared a month ago in Bucha.

Ihor, 45, went missing after being seen walking in the direction of a place that was later known to have Russian troops in it, Bucha’s central square but his body has not been found.

Mykola says: “I am certain he was shot but I cannot find him anywhere and I have asked everybody.”

It seems he has given up hope of Ihor returning alive.

He says: “I was thinking I might find him here but I have been coming back here for weeks and cannot find him.

“Finding him has been made even more difficult because many officials at the top here were killed.

“He has a daughter, my grandaughter called Yana, who has moved to the west of Ukraine. She knows he has been missing for one month.

“It is very hard not knowing what has happened to my son and all of the family are worried about him being missing for so long.

“What was happening here was not an occupation – it was barbarism, sheer barbarism.

“It is terrible what they did here and we are trying to deal with the aftermath.

“I just want to find my son. I have been coming back here every day to see if he is here but nobody can help me find him.

“I don’t know who to go to for help.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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