Russia-Ukraine war: 15,000 investigations into Russian war crimes, “the cost of justice is a small potato”, says the head of the ICC

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Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova told reporters on Tuesday that there are currently 15,000 ongoing investigations into Russia’s war crimes since the invasion began more than three months ago.

“We have 15,000 cases relating to Ukraine alone,” she said while discussing a joint effort by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to hold Russia accountable for its reported atrocities. “Think about it, only 15,000. Tomorrow [there will be an] another 200-300.”

Venediktova said Ukrainian officials have barely begun to investigate and prosecute those who have been charged in the Russian armed forces.

Nadiya Trubchaninova, 70, sits next to a plastic bag containing the body of her son Vadym Trubchaninov, 48, who was killed by Russian soldiers in Bucha on March 30, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday April 12, 2022.
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Nadiya Trubchaninova, 70, sits next to a plastic bag containing the body of her son Vadym Trubchaninov, 48, who was killed by Russian soldiers in Bucha on March 30, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday April 12, 2022.
(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

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The ICC launched its largest war crimes investigation earlier this month in coordination with the European Union’s legal arm, Eurojust, as well as Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine.

At least six European countries and the United States have also launched their own evidence-gathering investigations.

The joint investigation team has already interviewed more than 1,100 people and will use information gathered from other countries in its investigations, although ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said the international court was not mandated to share the evidence it collects with outside groups.

Venediktova said it was “very important” that countries like the United States and the United Kingdom were involved in the investigations not only to help fund the investigations, but also to provide expert assistance in areas such as the forensic analysis.

Khan welcomed any support provided by outside nations as the ICC continues its investigations.

FILE - Karim Ahmed Khan, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Justice in Khartoum, Sudan, August 12, 2021.

FILE – Karim Ahmed Khan, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Justice in Khartoum, Sudan, August 12, 2021.
(AP Photo/Marwan Ali, File)

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“What we should do is applaud any authority, any independent prosecutor who is trying to uncover the truth and uphold the rights of survivors. We are not in competition. It is a shared obligation,” he said. -he declares.

The prosecutor argued that maintaining the rule of law was not only more affordable than funding war, but also vital to upholding human rights.

“In terms of finances, every prosecutor will want more resources. But I think objectively, if you look at it more closely, the cost of justice is a small potato compared to the billions of dollars spent in disputes” , he added. “It’s much cheaper to finance a judicial mechanism than to buy tanks and missiles.”

Khan said the court would open an office in Kyiv to help with its investigations, but said access to all parts of the war-torn nation, such as eastern Ukraine, remains very difficult .

Ukraine’s prosecutor general said that despite Russia’s illegal occupation of Donbass, “thousands” of cases have been opened regarding crimes committed in the region.

WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGE

The body of Anton Ischenko, 20, a Ukrainian who died while his village was occupied by Russian troops, lies in a field in Andriivka, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

The body of Anton Ischenko, 20, a Ukrainian who died while his village was occupied by Russian troops, lies in a field in Andriivka, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

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Venediktova said cases involving the illegal transfer of children and adults to Russia, torture, deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure like schools and hospitals, and civilian deaths were among the cases on which they began to investigate.

It’s unclear how long the ICC’s investigations will last or how long it plans to stay in Kyiv.

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