LAW
Will the Hague Revisit the Russian-Georgian War?
15 October, 2015
Will the Hague Revisit the Russian-Georgian War?
According to The International Criminal Court, The Hague’s renewed interest in the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia is caused by war crimes that may have been committed within its timeframe. Court officials claim that Georgia began researching the events
that which occurred during the war, as soon as it was over and reported the findings to the ICC.

“We are especially interested in the 2008 war from the point of view of investigating instances of genocide of ethnic Georgians that took place during the conflict.”

Based on information provided, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda concludes that there were indeed war crimes committed; however, her position alone does not mean that the court has made a final decision to start a formal investigation. For the process to begin, the prosecutor should first receive permission from the Pre-Trial Chamber, after which it will be decided – based on all documents and materials available on the case – whether an investigation will be launched.

Three Pre-Trial Chamber judges were appointed to study the 2008 war case. On October 6th, the ICC demanded from Russia materials pertaining to the conflict.

Tea Tsulukiani, Justice Minister of Georgia:

“Georgia, since becoming a Rome Statute member country in 2003, is obliged to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, and that’s exactly what we do. We are particularly interested in the investigation of the facts pertaining to instances of ethnic cleansing of Georgians that have occurred during the August War.

Our Chief Prosecutor’s office is in close cooperation with that of Ms. Bensouda. The only thing we have failed to do so far is to provide them with materials taken directly from the occupied territories, since we do not have any means of investigating or altogether operating there.

Still, we hope that Prosecutor Bensouda will manage to fully conduct the investigation in the occupied territories as well.”

Russia’s Investigative Committee has responded to the recent statements by ICC, with its head Alexander Bastrykin making no effort to hide his displeasure at The Hague demanding 2008 war-related materials and documentation from Russia.

“We have 500 volumes of information on that war prepared, but no international institution has taken any interest in them so far. That’s despite our attempts to deliver them to The Hague in order to give Georgian military actions in South Ossetia the status of a war crime,” said Bastrykin in an effort to convince the international community that Russia actually begged The Hague to investigate the 2008 war materials.
At this stage, no one can say what the result of this entire endeavor will be or when it is going to end. But Georgians (and not only they) know full well what was going on in the occupied territories during the war and after it—with hundreds of Georgians murdered and driven from their homes in a mad bid to erase all traces of their existence on the land that has belonged to Georgia throughout its entire history.geotv.ge

ICC to probe possible war crimes in Russia-Georgia conflict

“The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has said she will investigate Russian and Georgian forces over possible war cri­mes. The investigation relates to a five-day conflict in 2008 centred on South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia. Fatou Bensouda said she had evidence suggesting South Ossetian forces killed up to 113 ethnic Georgian civilians, and both sides killed peacekeepers. Russian forces may have participated in the killing of civilians, she added. The war began with an operation by Georgia, which hoped to seize back South Ossetia. But Russian troops army quickly retook the area and pushed deeper into Georgian territory, stopping just short of the capital, Tbilisi. Nearly 1,000 people were killed while tens of thousands of Georgians living in the disputed areas were forced out of their homes. The ICC said on Tuesday that Ms Bensouda had evidence that both sides had killed peacekeepers - a war crime. The statement said shells from South Ossetian positions had killed two Georgian peacekeepers, while Georgian forces had killed 10 Russian peacekeepers and destroyed a medical facility. Prosecutors said there was evidence that up to 18,500 people were uprooted from their homes as part of a “forcible displacement campaign” conducted by South Ossetian authorities, and that the ethnic Georgian population in the conflict zone was reduced by at least 75 percent. The ICC said Ms Bensouda has asked judges for permission to investigate after an apparent lack of progress with Georgia’s inquiry into its own forces’ alleged crimes. Judges must now decide whether to authorise a full investigation, which could risk inflaming tensions between Russia and Western countries - already strained by the crisis in Syria. Russia is not a member of the ICC, which is based at the Hague. Separately, the ICC is pursuing an investigation into crimes committed in clashes between Ukrainian troops and Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine,” BBC reports.

Author: Rusudan Shelia
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