Russia arrests five Ukrainian soldiers for 'war crimes'

8th August 2014, Comments 0 comments

Russian investigators said on Friday they had detained five Ukrainian soldiers on suspicion of war crimes in eastern Ukraine, after they crossed into Russia earlier this week.

The soldiers went across the border in a huge contingent of over 400 servicemen on Monday.

Moscow claimed they had surrendered and were switching sides but Kiev said they were forced to cross after running out of ammunition. Most of the men since gone back to Ukraine.

Investigators questioned the troops as witnesses in a probe into war crimes, charges which can carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison.

The investigators said they had proof that the solders used heavy weapons indiscriminately, wounding or killing at least 10 civilians and destroying 20 homes.

The alleged crimes took place between July 19 and August 3 in the Lugansk region of Ukraine, one of the areas gripped by fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Kremlin separatists, they said.

Kiev has been fighting pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine since April, advancing on the Russian border in an attempt to cut the rebels off from supplies believed to be coming from Russia.

The investigators are also checking whether the detainees have been implicated in the use of banned weapons like phosphorus bombs, and are requesting a local court to formally put the five soldiers in custody during the investigation.

© 2014 AFP

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