Ukraine: International Criminal Court To Investigate ‘Alleged War Crimes’ As Putin’s Invasion Continues
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The International Criminal Court will open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, according to the court's chief prosecutor.
Karim Khan said that he had elected to open an investigation in possible war crimes and crimes against humanity that are alleged to have taken place since Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, February 24.
'I have already tasked my team to explore all evidence preservation opportunities,' he said.
He noted that as Ukraine is not an ICC member state, an inquiry will either need approval from ICC judges or for Russia's actions in Ukraine to be referred to the court by a member state.
The latter option 'would allow us to actively and immediately proceed with the office’s independent and objective investigations', Khan said.
He added that Ukraine has given the ICC jurisdiction, and that there were grounds for an investigation based not only on current events in Ukraine, but also on a previous preliminary investigation opened into Russia's actions in the Donbass and Crimea, the results of which were published last year.
That report found that there was enough evidence of alleged war crimes being committed by Russia in eastern Ukraine and Crimea to launch an investigation, however ICC judges declined to give their approval for further steps to be taken.
Khan said that having reviewed the report, he was 'satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine'.
His statement came shortly after the Prime Minister of Lithuania — which is an ICC member state — called for an investigation in an interview with the Washington Post, saying, 'What Putin is doing is just a murder and nothing else, and I hope he will be in The Hague.'
Ukraine has already filed legal action against Russia with the International Court of Justice, alleging that it launched an invasion of the country under false pretexts, namely by falsely claiming that the Ukrainian government was carrying out a genocide against Russian speakers.
The ICJ filing was described to The Guardian by one legal expert as a 'symbolic move by Ukraine', whereas an investigation by the ICC could potentially lead to charges being filed against Russian military members and leaders.
Ukraine and its allies have urged people to record and collate evidence of potential war crimes and crimes against humanity for potential future use in a Hague trial.
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