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Russian troops raped and tortured children in Ukraine, says UN panel

Russian troops have raped and tortured children in Ukraine, carried out a “large number” of executions and committed other war crimesaccording to a United Nations investigation by legal experts.

Established by the UN to investigate the conduct of the war, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry reported its chilling recommendations Friday in Geneva, describing a long list of abuses and atrocities in four regions.

“Based on the evidence gathered by the commission, it has concluded that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine,” Erik Mose, chairman of the three-member commission, told the UN Human Rights Council.

Moses, a Norwegian judge, said the commission has documented cases in which children have been “raped, tortured and illegally confined.”

“There are examples of cases in which family members were forced to witness the crimes. In the cases we have investigated, the age of the victims of sexual and gender-based violence ranged from four to 82 years old,” he added.

Children have also been killed and injured in “indiscriminate attacks” by Russian forces using explosive weapons, he said.

Moses said he and his colleagues “were shocked by the high number of executions in the areas we visited.”

The commission is investigating executions in 16 towns and settlements and has “credible allegations about many more cases of executions, which we are documenting further,” he said.

The execution cases often featured “prior detention of the victims, as well as visible signs of execution on the bodies, such as hands tied behind their backs, gunshot wounds to the head, and throats slit,” according to Moses.

For Ukrainians who were illegally detained, witnesses “provided us with consistent accounts of mistreatment and torture,” he said.

The commission’s update follows other allegations of war crimes by international human rights groups, Western governments and Ukrainian authorities, including the recent discovery of a mass burial site in the eastern city of Izyum.

The commission also found two cases of “ill-treatment against soldiers of the Russian Federation by Ukrainian forces,” it said. “Although few in number, these cases continue to be the subject of our attention.”

Focusing on the Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions, the commission visited 27 towns and settlements and interviewed 150 victims and witnesses.

As his investigation continues, he will examine the forcible removal of people and the alleged expedited adoption of children, Moses said.

The United States accused Russia of interrogating, detaining and forcibly deporting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to Russia. An unknown number of children are believed to have been adopted by Russian families. The alleged deportations represent a war crime, violating the Geneva Conventions, US officials say.

Russia has denied committing war crimes and defended its conduct of the war since launching the invasion on February 24. Russian authorities say the Ukrainians who moved to Russia traveled there voluntarily.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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