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14 June 2022, 10:03

Huge mass grave of Nazi victims found near Minsk

MINSK, 14 June (BelTA) – More than 38,000 civilian victims of the Nazis might have been buried in the Uruchie forest near Minsk, Sergei Shikunets, Deputy Head of the Directorate for Supervision of the Investigation of Particularly Important Criminal Cases at the Prosecutor General's Office, told reporters, BelTA has learned.

“According to archival data obtained during the investigation of the criminal case, there are seven pit graves on the territory of the Uruchcie forest where more than 38,000 civilians were buried. After studying archival documents and interrogating witnesses and eyewitnesses, we managed to identify two pit graves. The first one was found at the end of last year. The grave is 19m x 4.5m big and up to 5m deep. An estimated 8,000 or more people were buried there. When we identified the first pit, it became easier for us to move on and establish other pit graves. By now we have probably found the second out of seven graves located on the territory of the forest,” Sergei Shikunets said.

The new place of mass extermination of civilians during the Great Patriotic War was discovered in May during the investigation of the genocide case. Numerous skeletal remains, wire (presumably from a victim's wrist), fragments of a sole, and a spoon were found. Investigation is currently underway there.

The investigation of the criminal case on the genocide continues, Sergei Shikunets noted. There is still a huge amount of archival documents to be studied and a great number of investigative actions to be undertaken. This year alone, 27 places are planned to be examined in various parts of the country. “Half of the work has already been done. Unfortunately, we find numerous evidence confirming the extermination of the civilian population. Bone remains are found. All of them are subjected to medical and forensic examination,” he said.

According to Sergei Shikunets, most of the 27 sites slated for examination are new mass graves that were not known before. “There are at least 27 of them. The investigation continues, more and more evidence is revealed. We document them and, if there are grounds, our search plan is updated. Such work will continue,” he said.

Experts are definite in their conclusions, Sergei Shikunets underlined. According to him, most victims were shot in the head while being below the shooter. Experts assume that people were thrown into the pits alive and shot from above.

More than 15,000 witnesses have already been interrogated in the genocide case. Half of them were prisoners of concentration camps and death camps. Investigators studied more than 3,000 archival documents, previously unknown places of mass extermination and places of forced detention.

Speaking about the timing of the investigation, Sergei Shikunets underlined: “We will continue investigating until we reveal all the facts of mass extermination, until we ascertain absolutely all the facts of atrocities on our territory.” The results of the investigation will be publicized, he added.

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