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Over 450 bodies to be exhumed in Ukraine's Izium: audio report

21.09.2022 21:45
In a forest near the recently liberated northeastern Ukrainian city of Izium, forensic experts are working to exhume bodies buried in mass graves dating from the Russian occupation of the area.
Photo:Mykola Kalyeniak/PAP

Exhumation work is expected to continue for at least two more weeks before all of the site's 450 or so bodies are dealt with, officials have said.

The scene is so grim that even the investigators are overwhelmed. The forensic experts, dressed in white protective suits and wearing rubber gloves, have been working methodically for days to exhume and identify the bodies, whose makeshift graves were marked by flimsy wooden crosses.

The site has become further evidence of crimes committed by Russians against Ukrainians.

On September 16, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that over 400 bodies, including some with signs of torture, had been found at the mass burial site in the liberated city.

Ukrainian servicemen and children were among the bodies.

According to Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, 11 torture chambers have been discovered across the Kharkiv region in areas liberated from Russian invaders, and six of them were based in the city of Izium.

According to data from Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, most of the victims were civilians, and two children were among them.

Some bodies bear signs of a violent death. Some victims have their hands tied and bear signs of torture. The deceased were also found to have suffered mine and explosive injuries, shrapnel and stab wounds.

The city of Izium remained under Russian occupation between March 7 and September 10. Over five months, Russian troops had been massively shelling the city and its outskirts with different weapons, killing and torturing local residents.

The exhumed bodies are being transported to Kharkiv for further forensic examination and to ascertain the cause of death.

According to Izium Mayor Valerii Marchenko, the exhumation of the bodies of those who had been killed in shelling and tortured to death by Russian troops will last for about two more weeks, as there are too many victims buried.

Halyna Pastushuk reports.

Click on the audio player above to listen.