Bucha civilian deaths were war crimes, Germany's chancellor says

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivers his speech at an election campaign of Schleswig Holstein's Social Democrats (SPD) for the upcoming state elections on May 8, 2022, with top candidate Thomas Losse-Mueller and chairwoman Serpil Midyatli, in Luebeck, Germany, April 9, 2022. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

BERLIN, April 9 (Reuters) - The perpetrators of civilian killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha were guilty of war crimes and must be held accountable, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Saturday.

"This is something we cannot forget," Scholz said, referring to the deaths of civilians in the town to the northwest of Kyiv.

"We cannot overlook that this is a crime. These are war crimes we will not accept... those who did this must be held accountable."

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Since Russian troops pulled back from Bucha last week, Ukrainian officials say hundreds of civilians have been found dead. Bucha's deputy mayor said more than 360 civilians were killed and around 260-280 were buried in a mass grave by other residents. read more

Russia has called the allegations that Russian forces executed civilians in Bucha while they occupied the town a "monstrous forgery" aimed at denigrating the Russian army.

Speaking at a rally ahead of state elections in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, Scholz said Germany would continue supplying Ukraine with defensive weapons to send the message that it was committed to protecting the sovereignty of European states.

"European borders must remain untouched," he said.

Russia calls its action a "special military operation" to demilitarise and "denazify" its neighbour. Ukraine and the West say the invasion was illegal and unjustified.

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Reporting by Victoria Waldersee Editing by Frances Kerry

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