Pope Francis denounces 'tortured bodies' found in Ukraine

Pope Francis addresses the audience as he arrives for the weekly general audience at the Vatican on Sept 21.
PHOTO: Reuters

Pope Francis said on Wednesday (Sept 21) that Ukrainians were being subjected to savageness, monstrosities and torture, calling them a "noble" people being martyred.

Speaking at the end of his general audience in St Peter's Square, Francis, who did not name Russia, told the crowd of a conversation he had on Tuesday with Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, his charity chief who is delivering aid in Ukraine.

Vatican media said Krajewski, who is Polish, had to run and take cover after coming under light gunfire last week while delivering aid with Catholic bishop, a Protestant bishop, and a Ukrainian soldier.

It said he also visited mass graves outside Izium, in northeast Ukraine.

"He [Krajewski] told me of the pain of these people, the savage acts, the monstrosity, the tortured bodies they find. Let us unite with these people, so noble, and martyred," he said.

Ukrainian officials have said they have found hundreds of bodies, some with their hands tied behind their backs, buried in territory recaptured from Russian forces, in what President Volodymyr Zelensky called proof of war crimes.

Russia has consistently denied its troops have committed war crimes since its troops invaded Ukraine in February. On Monday, the Kremlin rejected allegations of such abuses in Kharkiv region, where Izium is located, as a "lie".

Of the 111 civilian bodies exhumed by Wednesday, four showed signs of torture, Serhiy Bolvinov, the head of investigative police in the Kharkiv region, said at the burial ground.

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