De Croo: Perpetrators of Bucha massacre will face trial

Russian soldiers who carried out the massacre in the Ukrainian town of Bucha are “murderers and they will be tried for their crimes”, Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo said in a video message to the Bucha Summit, a ceremony marking one year since Russian troops withdrew from the town .

“Today we honour these citizens of Ukraine who were mowed down by an army and regime that denied the right of the republic and the people of Ukraine to exist,” he said.

Commemoration is important, he said, but it is not enough. “The Russian soldiers who committed these massacres need to know that they will not be quietly forgotten. For they are murderers and they will be tried for their crimes. The commanding officers who did not contain their troops but instead encouraged them will not peacefully leave service. For they too are war criminals and will be tried,” he said. “There will be no peace for the generals who planned and organised this aggression. They already know their fate: death in combat or life imprisonment ordered by an international court.”

"The Russian soldiers who committed these massacres need to know that they will not be quietly forgotten"

De Croo said that Ukraine was fighting not only for territorial integrity and its future as a nation, but also for “our common values and the preservation of the rules-based international order”. He also reiterated Belgium’s support. “We will support you in defeating the aggressor, and in documenting these heinous crimes and in bringing these criminals to justice.”

Russian forces pulled out of Bucha, a town north of Kiev, on 31 March last year, a month after the start of the invasion. After their withdrawal, the bodies of hundreds of people were found, including 73 in a mass grave at a church. In total, the bodies of 458 civilians have been found in the city, which has become a symbol of the war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine.

The anniversary ceremony was attended by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and the leaders of Moldova, Croatia and Slovakia. Members of the Ukrainian armed forces were presented with medals for their role in recapturing the town.


A man walks among graves of unidentified local people who were killled in Bucha © SERGEI SUPINSKY / AFP

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