July 26, 2023, 15:00

Six hours without help, seriously injured victims taken out in military trucks – results of MIHR probe into events at Olenivka colony

Last year, on the night of July 29, fifty soldiers died as a result of the explosions and a subsequent fire in the Olenivka colony (Volnovakha correctional colony No. 120), where 193 Azov prisoners were held. Over 70 others were seriously injured.

During a briefing at Media Center Ukraine – Ukrinform, representatives of the Media Initiative for Human Rights (MIHR), as well as representatives of the families of the deceased and captured Azov fighters, presented the results of their own investigation into the crime and the events on the night of July 28-29, 2022, which they managed to recreate. To reconstruct the events, the MIHR team interviewed witnesses of this crime who were inside the barracks at the time of the murder.

During the discussion, Maria Klymyk, author of the investigation and investigative journalist at the MIHR, noted that, according to the testimony of the military, shortly before the massacre, the prisoners learned about the barrack located in the industrial zone and isolated from the rest of the territory of the penal colony. Later, they were transferred there, and shortly after the explosions occurred, as a result of which a large number of soldiers were killed and many of them suffered wounds of various degrees of severity.

The journalist noted that the investigation data indicated that after the explosion happened, the administration of the colony, despite requests, did not help to extinguish the fire, contributed to the provision of aid, nor helped to pull out the wounded.

According to Maria Klymyk, six hours had passed after the explosion when the evacuation of the imprisoned soldiers finally began. Then, the effort began to take out those seriously injured, although not in ambulances, but in military Kamaz trucks, which is the reason why some soldiers injured in the explosion died.

The author of the investigation noted that one of the prisoners of war, who was at the scene of the crime, reported that the russians had brought a bag of fragments and scattered them at the site of the explosion in order to later present it to journalists as fragments of HIMARS ammunition.

“Therefore, he is sure that these fragments are fake. Because he was there when they brought the fragments to the site already after it had happened. Only then did these fragments appear. He also notes that the security did not help at all. The next day, all this was done in order to show journalists what a terrible crime the Ukrainians (allegedly – Ed.) committed. Instead, he claims that many things in russia’s actions cause a lot of doubts. And their version is made up to accuse Ukraine of a crime committed by russia itself,” she emphasized.

At the same time, Andriy Yakovlev, MIHR expert and a Managing Partner at “Umbrella” law firm, explained the legal aspects of the tragedy with prisoners of war in the Olenivka colony.

In particular, he noted that there are two legal issues: the explosions with their consequences and the investigation into what happened. He noted that the Geneva Conventions is to be applied in the matter of the explosions, as it guarantees humane treatment of prisoners of war.

“In particular, the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War guarantees the treatment of POWs, and Article 13 contains certain guarantees as well. In particular, the detaining state is obliged to ensure safety not only from ill-treatment, but also to ensure that there are no deaths. We see that this guarantee has not been fulfilled – deaths have occurred. And the Article 13 itself states that failure to fulfill these obligations is a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions. International humanitarian law itself is structured in such a way that serious violations are war crimes. This is directly recorded in the Additional Protocol, in particular, Article 86 of the Additional Protocol,” Andriy Yakovlev explained.

Besides, the expert noted that russia has failed to provide access, conduct investigations and share information. He is convinced that in this case it is necessary to restore international missions and force the russian federation to grant access to international investigators.

You are welcome to read the full version of the reconstruction of the events leading to the mass murder of Azov fighter at the link: https://mipl.org.ua/voyennyj-zlochyn-v-olenivczi-rekonstrukcziya-podij-masovogo-vbyvstva-polonenyh-azovcziv/

Read more: https://mediacenter.org.ua/news