Ukrainian refugees in Rome | Photo: ANSA/Claudio Peri
Ukrainian refugees in Rome | Photo: ANSA/Claudio Peri

Prosecutors in Bari, southern Italy, have opened an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Russian soldiers against Ukrainian civilians. As part of the inquiry, numerous refugees arriving in Italy's province of Puglia have given their accounts.

In Italy, Prosecutor Roberto Rossi and assistant prosecutor Francesco Giannella, coordinator of the anti-mafia and counterterrorism department, have opened an initial inquiry into war crimes committed in Ukraine.

For weeks, police in the southern Italian region of Puglia have been gathering the tales of Ukrainian refugees arriving there, at the request of the prosecutor's office. The aim is to document -- through the testimonies of civilians who have fled from war -- abuses and violence of all types committed by Russian soldiers against civilians.

Numerous refugees have already told their stories to Bari investigators, in particular several who arrived by plane to Bari via Krakow in Poland. Most of them are women who have fled Ukraine with their children.

Refugees have 'terrible stories'

Sources from among the investigators say that they have been told "terrible stories," but details are being kept strictly confidential.

The documentation will be sent to the anti-mafia department and then to European judicial authorities so that they can "conserve, analyze, and archive the evidence of crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine," officials said.

The Bari prosecutors also said that they may pursue cases of individual crimes suffered by refugees that were reported in their region.

Crimes against Ukrainian civilians

Among the crimes for which charges may be issued after all testimonies have been gathered are reportedly sexual crimes as well as murder and other types of violence.

The investigation is currently being carried out against unknown perpetrators but with a precise possible charge: that of "international collaboration on crimes of aggression."

All the investigations that will be opened by district prosecutors in Italy will be under the direction of the anti-mafia department and, at a higher level, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), as part of the activities of an international investigative task force into alleged crimes committed in Ukraine.


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