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In the Ukrainian village of Kozatcha Lopan, which adjoins the Russian border, justice is investigating war crimes by Russian forces. Kateryna Shevtsova, an employee of the regional prosecutor’s office, visits basements where the torture of Ukrainians is said to have been committed, accompanied by the criminal police in search of clues. Our journalist followed their investigations.
In Kozatcha Lopan, in northwestern Ukraine, part of this basement has been transformed into a dungeon. It’s damp, cold and the smell of urine is strong.
“People were kept here to be tortured, that’s why we inspect the premises with investigators and experts,” said Kateryna Shevtsova, from the Derhatchi prosecutor’s office.
This is not the only place in the village where torture was practiced. In the distance, artillery fire is heard. Not enough to interrupt the work of the investigators. Our journalist now follows the representative of Ukrainian justice and the criminal police in the basement of a train station.
According to several witnesses interviewed by the police, this place was used as a torture chamber. DNA is found on the various objects present on site. They will be taken away for expertise.
>> See also, our report: with the French gendarmes who document war crimes in Ukraine
“During the inspection, we found some tape and we are examining it because they (the Russian soldiers) probably used it to bind the hands of the victims.”
This resident – who wishes to remain anonymous – spent five days in this basement before being moved to another prison. A former member of the Ukrainian forces, the Russian soldiers hounded him.
“One of them asked me about my service and my position in the army. He pulled down my pants, my boxers and he said to me ‘you lie down straight!'”, he testifies. “He took an iron clamp and attached it to my penis. They said to me ‘you are going to answer!’ After five electric shocks, I tried to hit my head against the wall… I was screaming, it was excruciating.”
The man said he was relieved by the presence of the investigators. Relieved, but still destroyed.
>> To read also, our long format: Ukraine: how to judge war crimes?