French priest is leading research after war crimes in Ukraine


Eastern Europe


Patric Debois. Photo Twitter

The French priest Patrick Desbois will lead the ground investigation after the war crimes in Ukraine. The Roman Catholic is the scientific coordinator of the Babi Yar Jewish Memorial in Kyiv.

French media are reporting this. The Catholic radio station RCF mentions that Desbois is a specialist in the field of genocide.

Desbois is known for his work on the so-called “Holocaust by bullets”, the murder of 1,5 million Jews in Ukraine during the Second World War. He has made it possible to methodically collect the testimonies of some 700 witnesses of those crimes. In 2015, he worked to collect evidence of the Yazidi genocide in Iraq.

After rumours that the Russian army also attacked Babi Yar, Mr Desbois decided to collect testimonies of the survivors of this war. He began systematic work on the traces of war crimes in the country. With mediators on site and his team from the Babi Yar memorial in Kyiv, he methodically collects the testimonies he obtains. “With a translator, via Zoom, people agree to speak with their faces uncovered, to give their date of birth, their real identity, we have their telephone number, their e-mail address, so it’s really people who can be verified and who want to testify for the Russian shooters and killers to be tried.”

Desbois showing an exhibition in France about Roma during the Second World War, May 2020. Photo AFP, Raymond Roig

The common name for atrocities in this war is Bucha. But there are “many Bucha’s” now, Desbois says to RCF. “Bucha was very highlighted because the media were able to reveal that there were all these bodies outside. But the same crime scenes are repeated everywhere.” The priest says he already has enough evidence to say this.

To France24 Desbois says that he has seen enough to speak about war crimes, but that the word genocide goes “too far”.

Relation with Judaism

According to France24, Father Desbois is the former head of the Church’s Commission for Relation with Judaism.

The newspaper La Croix writes that Desbois has coined the dramatic expression “Shoah by bullets”, that has taken place in Ukraine.



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