The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said today it had found “substantial reasons” to conclude that a rocket attack that killed 59 people at a cafe in the Ukrainian village of Khroza was carried out by Russia.
The findings were published in a report based on evidence collected by two missions to Hroza by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), whose members interviewed 35 people, including local residents, witnesses, two survivors, medical staff and morgue workers.
Liz Trossell, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva that “there are good reasons to believe that the missile was fired by the Russian armed forces.”
“There were no indications of the presence of military personnel or any other legitimate military targets in the cafe or in the adjacent area at the time of the attack,” she added.
Ukraine had announced that the Russian missile had hit the cafe in the village in the Kharkiv region on October 5 as residents gathered to mourn a fallen Ukrainian soldier. Moscow denies that its army is harming civilians in its invasion, and it repeated its position in relation to the attack on Hroza.
The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately comment on the report.
“The Russian armed forces either did not do everything possible to ascertain that the target to be attacked was a military target and not civilians or civilian installations, or they deliberately targeted civilians or civilian objects,” the OHCHR report said.
“Either scenario would be a violation of international humanitarian law,” Trossell said.
The report says the weapon most likely used in the attack, the Iskander missile, is in the arsenal of the Russian armed forces, not Ukraine.
“We call on the Russian Federation to conduct a full and transparent investigation to hold those responsible accountable and take steps to prevent similar attacks in the future,” Trossell said.