Russia committed ‘clear war crime’ against Mariupol theater
An extensive investigation by Amnesty International (AI) concludes that Russian military forces committed a “clear war crime” when they attacked the theater in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in March, killing around 600 people.
“After months of rigorous investigation, analysis of satellite imagery and interviews with dozens of witnesses, we have concluded that the attack was a clear war crime committed by Russian forces,” said AI Secretary General Agnès Callamard.
“Many people were injured or lost their lives in this relentless attack. It is likely that their deaths were caused by the deliberate attack of Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces,” she pointed out.
Agnès Callamard stressed that “the International Criminal Court and all those who have jurisdiction over the crimes committed during this conflict must investigate the attacks as a war crime”.
In May, an investigation by the AP news agency found that about 600 people had died in the theater attack, double the number estimated by Kiev at the time.
Between March 16 and June 21, AI analyzed in detail digital evidence, satellite imagery, 52 first-hand testimonies from survivors and people who witnessed the attack, architectural plans of the building, and authenticated photographic and video material.
In a new report entitled “’Children’: The Attack on the Donetsk Regional Academic Drama Theater in Mariupol”, the non-governmental organization (NGO) documents how the Russians attacked the infrastructure, even though there were hundreds of civilians, including children.
By interviewing several survivors and collecting various computer data, the AI Crisis Response team concluded that the attack was almost certainly carried out by Russian warplanes that dropped two 500-kilogram (kg) bombs that landed next to each other and detonated simultaneously.
AI hired a physicist to create a mathematical model of the detonation, to determine the net explosive weight of the explosion that would be needed to cause the level of destruction detected in the theater.
The conclusion, according to the NGO, was that the bombs had a net explosive weight of 400/800 kg.
For its part, based on available data on Russian bombs, AI estimated that the weapons were likely two 500kg bombs of the same model, giving a total net explosive weight of between 440 and 600kg.
The Russian Army aircraft most likely to carry out the attack were multirole fighters — such as the Su-25, Su-30 or Su-34 models — based at nearby Russian airfields and often seen operating in southern Ukraine.
After examining several theories, the investigation concludes that a deliberate air strike against a civilian target was the most likely explanation.
According to AI, survivors and other witnesses admitted to seeing dead bodies they could not identify, with many deaths likely yet to be reported.
The Mariupol Drama Theater in the Donetsk region became a safe haven for civilians seeking shelter from the fighting.
In addition to being a distribution center for medicine, food and water, and a designated meeting point for people waiting to be evacuated in humanitarian corridors, the building, in that besieged city, was recognizable as a civilian infrastructure, according to AI.
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