The Russian shelling of the Mariupol theater was a clear war crime and a deliberate attack on a civilian target, according to Amnesty International, which has carried out a thorough investigation.
The attack occurred in mid-March and shocked the world due to the possible presence of hundreds of civilians inside. The place was clearly marked and the word “children” had been written on its entrance so that it could be seen from the sky.
Amnesty International believes that Russian forces deliberately targeted the theatre, knowing that it was used as a shelter, an aid distribution center and a departure point for humanitarian convoys.
Shelter, humanitarian center and place of departure for convoys
“There was abundant evidence of a significant civilian presence. In fact, in the weeks leading up to the attack it had been used as a humanitarian center and at least a thousand civilians, who had fled their homes from encroaching violence in the city, had taken refuge there,” explains Joanne Mariner of Amnesty International. “The theater was also being used as a staging point for convoys who were trying to escape. So a cursory check of the theater would have been enough to show that it was a civilian target by excellence. And in no case used for military purposes”.
The bombardment took place in the first weeks of the siege of Mariupol. According to Amnesty, it was carried out by Russian warplanes that dropped two 500-kilogram bombs that landed close to each other and detonated simultaneously.
Investigators identified 12 bodies, although they say the true number of victims will never be known.