Ukraine identifies ‘several thousand’ war crimes cases in Donbas, prosecutor says – Times of India


THE HAGUE: Ukraine has identified several thousand suspected war crimes in the eastern Donbas region where Russian forces are conducting their offensive, Kiev’s chief prosecutor said on Tuesday.
Cases in the industrial region are among about 15,000 across Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, Attorney General Iryna Venediktova said.
“Of course we started a few thousand cases about what we see in Donbas,” Venediktova told a press conference in The Hague as she met international colleagues.
“When we talk about war crimes, it’s about possible transfer of people, we started several cases about possible transfer of children, adult people to different parts of the Russian Federation,” she said.
“Then, of course, we can talk about torturing people, killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure.”
Ukrainian authorities were denied access to the Russian-occupied areas of Donbas, but they questioned evacuees and prisoners of war, Venediktova told the press conference at the headquarters of the EU’s judicial body, Eurojust.
In all, Ukraine had identified 15,000 war crimes cases since the Russian invasion, with 200 to 300 new cases a day, she added.
Ukraine had identified 600 suspects for the “anchor crime” of aggression, including “high-ranking military personnel, politicians and propaganda agents of the Russian Federation,” the prosecutor general said.
Nearly 80 suspects had been identified for alleged war crimes that actually took place on Ukrainian soil, it added.
Two Russian soldiers were sentenced Tuesday to 11 and a half years in prison by a Ukrainian court for shelling civilian areas, while another was sentenced to life in prison earlier this month for murdering a civilian.
Three other European countries – Latvia, Estonia and Slovakia – joined an international investigative team investigating war crimes in Ukraine on Tuesday.
Prosecutors from Poland, Lithuania and the Hague International Criminal Court are already part of the team.
“Today is a memorable day that the (team) has three new members,” ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said at the press conference alongside the Ukrainian prosecutor.
The ICC would “hopefully” open a field office in Kiev in the coming weeks to have a more permanent base for its research in Ukraine, Khan added.
“We can’t fly in and out,” Khan said.
Earlier this month, the ICC dispatched the largest team of investigators in the court’s 20-year history to investigate suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Venediktova said she hoped her country would handle “95 percent” of cases, but that some bigger or more difficult cases could be handled by the ICC.
The Russian invasion and subsequent discovery of hundreds of murders in places such as Bucha, a suburb of Kiev, have sparked unprecedented international investigative efforts.
“Never in the history of armed conflict has the legal community reacted with such determination,” said Eurojust President Ladislav Hamran.

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