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Amnesty: Ukraine War Prisoners Tortured05/22 07:07

   KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Both warring sides in eastern Ukraine are perpetrating 
war crimes almost daily, including torturing prisoners and summarily killing 
them, the Amnesty International rights group said in a report Friday.

   Amnesty said in a statement that it has heard from former captives of both 
Ukrainian government and separatist forces who say they faced savage beatings, 
torture with electric shocks, kicking and stabbings.

   Concern about the treatment of prisoners comes as Ukrainian authorities face 
scrutiny this week for publicly parading two men they say were Russian soldiers 
captured while fighting alongside separatists.

   Hundreds of Ukrainian troops are believed to have been captured by rebel 
forces in the yearlong war that has claimed more than 6,100 lives. Both sides 
routinely accuse one another of mistreating captives. Under a February peace 
agreement, all war prisoners had been due for release in early March, but 
little progress has been achieved.

   Amnesty says it interviewed 17 captives of the separatists and another 16 
held by government forces for its report.

   "In the shadow of eastern Ukraine's still-smoldering conflict, our 
on-the-ground research shows that accounts of detainee torture are as 
commonplace as they are shocking," Amnesty International representative John 
Dalhuisen said.

   The mistreatment cataloged in the Amnesty report included instances of 
prisoners being hung from the ceiling, deprived of sleep for days and 
threatened with death.

   "The Ukrainian authorities must investigate all allegations of war crimes 
and other abuses, open files and collect evidence of abuses by separatist 
forces and bring to justice all those responsible for perpetrating such heinous 
acts," Dalhuisen said.

   The group is urging U.N. agencies and experts to visit detention sites in 
Ukraine to meet those being held by both sides.

   Amnesty said the worst abuse tends to occur during the first days of 
captivity and that groups operating largely outside the chain of command are 
the most violent.

   "The situation on the separatist side is particularly chaotic, with a 
variety of different groups holding captives in at least a dozen known 
locations," Amnesty said.

   It identified Ukraine's Right Sector nationalist militia as one of the worst 
culprits on the pro-government side.

   "Right Sector has reportedly held dozens of civilian prisoners as hostages, 
brutally torturing them and extorting large amounts of money from them and 
their families," the group said.

   Amnesty says attempts to get Ukrainian authorities to address complaints 
over Right Sector have been ignored.

   The Ukrainian Security Service said Friday it is open to dialogue with 
international rights organizations and said it will meet with Amnesty to 
discuss the report.

   Eduard Basurin, a spokesman for rebel forces in the separatist stronghold of 
Donetsk, refuted Amnesty's findings.

   "They constantly make these accusations but they are never able to provide 
any evidence," Basurin told The Associated Press by telephone.

   But Amnesty said it has corroborated the accounts it collected with evidence 
such as X-rays of broken bones, medical records and photographs of injuries.

   Ukraine's security services have been criticized for their public show this 
week of two men they say are Russian intelligence operatives fighting along 
pro-Moscow rebels. The men, who have been identified as Yevgeny Yerofeyev and 
Alexander Alexandrov, were interviewed by journalists while lying in their 
hospital beds and showing clear signs of physical discomfort.

   The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is monitoring 
a shaky truce in Ukraine, has expressed misgivings over the government's 
treatment of the two prisoners.

   "It's important that very widely subscribed-to human rights standards be 
adhered to, and that does not include parading them in front of the media," 
said OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw.

   Bociurkiw said both sides in recent days have resumed using highly 
destructive and inaccurate multiple rocket launchers.

   Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Friday three Ukrainian 
troops had died and another 12 were wounded in the previous day's unrest. 
Lysenko said most casualties were sustained near the eastern rebel-held city of 
Donetsk, where OSCE has seen intensified rocket fire.


(KA)


 
 
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