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Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova told reporters 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 only about Ukraine,” she said while discussing a joint effort by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to hold Russia accountable for its reported atrocities. “Just think about it, only 15,000. Tomorrow [there will be an] extra 200-300.”
Venediktova said Ukrainian officials had barely begun to investigate and prosecute those who have been accused in the Russian armed forces.
Nadiya Trubchaninova, 70, sits next to a plastic bag that contains the body of her son Vadym Trubchaninov, 48, who was killed by Russian soldiers in Bucha on March 30, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 12, 2022.
(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
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The ICC launched its largest-ever investigation into war crimes earlier this month in coordination with the European Union’s legal branch, Eurojust, along with Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine.
At least six European nations and the U.S. have also launched their own evidence-gathering probes.
The Joint Investigation Team has already interviewed over 1,100 individuals and will utilize information collected from other nations in its investigations, though ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said the international court is not mandated to share any evidence that it collects with outside groups.
Venediktova said it is “very important” that nations like the U.S. and the U.K. participate in the investigations to not only help finance the probes but to provide expert assistance in areas like forensic analysis.
Khan welcomed any support provided by outside nations as the ICC continues its investigations.
FILE – Karim Ahmed Khan, International Criminal Court chief prosecutor, speaks during a news conference at the Ministry of Justice in the Khartoum, Sudan, Aug. 12, 2021.
(AP Photo/Marwan Ali, File)
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“What we should do is applaud any authority, any independent prosecutor that is trying to get to the truth and vindicate the rights of survivors. We’re not in competition. This is a shared obligation,” he said.
The prosecutor argued that upholding the rule of law was not only more affordable than financing the war but vital in upholding human rights.
“In terms of the finances, every prosecutor will want more resources. But I think objectively if you look at it, the cost of justice is small potatoes compared to the billions of dollars that are expended in conflict,” he added. “It’s much cheaper to fund a judicial mechanism than to buy tanks and missiles.”
Khan said the court would be opening up an office in Kyiv to assist with its investigations, but said gaining access to all parts of the war-torn nation, like eastern Ukraine, remains very difficult.
The Ukrainian prosecutor general said that despite Russia’s illegal occupation in the Donbas “thousands” of cases had been opened involving crimes committed in the region.
WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGE
The body of Anton Ischenko, 20, a Ukrainian man 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 regarding the illegal transfer of children and adults to Russia, torture, purposeful targeting of civilian infrastructure like schools and hospitals, and civilian deaths were among those cases they have begun to investigate.
It is unclear how long the ICC’s investigations will last or how long it plans to remain in Kyiv.