Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “war criminal” and should be arrested, says former chief war crimes tribunal prosecutor Carla Del Ponte.

She told Swiss newspaper Blick that she had shocked by Russia’s use of mass graves in Ukraine, saying that it reminded her of what she had seen in the former Yugoslavia.

Del Ponte added that said an international arrest warrant would prevent Putin from leaving Russia, and “it would be a strong signal that he has many states against him,”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said that the number of civilians killed by Russian troops in the newly-liberated town of Bucha could be “in the hundreds”.

At least 1,325 Ukrainian civilians have been killed in Russian attacks so far, according to UN estimates, including 120 children. A further 2,000 people have been injured.

War correspondents from AFP reported finding the bodies of at least 20 civilians in Bucha, just north-west of Kyiv, after Russian forces withdrew from the area on Saturday. The town had been completely cut off for a month after the Russian invasion.

“Three of them are tangled up in bicycles after taking their final ride, while others, with waxy skin, have fallen next to bullet-ridden and crushed cars,” the reporters wrote.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak claimed on Twitter that the men found dead with their hands tied behind their backs, “were shot dead by Russian soldiers”.

Even though non-combatants had been wearing white armbands to signal that they were unarmed, they were still targeted by Russian troops.

The Mayor of Bucha, Anatoliy Fedoruk, said the Russian occupiers had treated civilians with shocking brutality. “Corpses of executed people still line the Yabluska street in Bucha.

“Their hands are tied behind their backs with white ‘civilian’ rags, they were shot in the back of their heads. So you can imagine what kind of lawlessness they perpetrated here,” he told Reuters.

The UK’s Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, said that she was appalled by the atrocities in Bucha and other towns in Ukraine “Reports of Russian forces targeting innocent civilians are abhorrent,” she tweeted, adding that the UK is working with other governments to collect evidence and support a war crimes investigation by the International Criminal Court. “Those responsible will be held to account,” she warned.

Deputy PM Dominic Raab has said last month that anyone following Putin’s illegal orders could also face prosecution in the Hague: “For all of those commanders on the ground right through to the people around Putin in the Kremlin, what they do now, whether they give or whether they follow illegal orders to commit war crimes, they will be held to account for it, and they need to know that”.

Mr Raab, who had just returned from The Hague, added: “The word is going out and this is what we are doing in The Hague, with 38 other countries following our lead, sending the message to Putin and his commanders if you commit these kind of crimes you will end up in the dock of a court.

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