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16th Aug 2022

Almost 15,000 war crime cases already, says Ukraine prosecutor

  • Kyiv is currently investigating almost 15,000 alleged war crimes (Photo: Ukraine foreign ministry)
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Ukraine's chief prosecutor Iryna Venediktova says they have opened nearly 15,000 war crime cases — with up to 300 new ones emerging daily.

"We have nearly 80 suspects, 80 people whom we can start to prosecute," she told reporters on Tuesday (31 May).

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The comments came following an announcement of an expanding European team of prosecutors, coordinated by the EU's judicial agency, Eurojust.

The Hague-based agency had set up a joint investigation team to probe international crimes within a week after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Current members include Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, and the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

On Tuesday, it was joined by Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia.

It is the largest joint investigation team ever supported by the agency, said Ladislav Hamran, Eurojust president.

"We can fairly conclude that the war in Ukraine will be the most-documented armed conflict we have ever witnessed so far," he said.

The agency will provide funding and technical support like laptops and other equipment needed to collect war crime evidence.

Once collected and centralised at Eurojust, it will then be shared with the team.

"Whatever piece of evidence is collected by these countries is made immediately available," he said.

The team will be working on individual cases. The aim is to make sure they do not overlap, while providing and sharing evidence.

For its part, the ICC says it has deployed 42 experts to work on Ukraine, also its largest team ever.

Another 30 were provided by the Netherlands, including forensic experts and crime scene specialists.

"I will be working towards opening an office in Kyiv," said ICC prosecutor, Karim A. A. Khan.

Khan noted that while the ICC is part of the joint investigation team, it will not be obliged to share all its findings.

Poland's national prosecutor Dariusz Bartki said they are also looking at crimes committed by Belarus for having allowed Russia to use it as a military staging ground.

As for evidence of war crimes committed in Ukraine, Bartki said they have so far interviewed over 1,100 people.

"Our proceedings entail interviewing the witnesses and victims of these crimes against humanity and war crimes," he said, noting that well over three million Ukrainians have fled to Poland.

Six other EU states have also, in parallel, opened their own investigations into crimes committed in Ukraine.

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