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International Investigation Centre to Probe Crimes Against Ukraine

The International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine, ICPA, a new legal body that will investigate crimes committed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, was launched on Monday in The Hague.

The ICPA, set up with the support of European Commission, is made up of prosecutors from EU member states who are part of the Joint Investigation Team that is probing serious crimes committed during the ongoing war, together with prosecutors from Ukraine and the International Criminal Court.

The ICPA will prepare cases for future trials before national or international courts related to the crime of aggression against Ukraine and is being seen as a step towards the establishment of a special tribunal that could prosecute President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian officials involved in the invasion.

Ladislav Hamran, the president of EuroJust, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, said that “never in history we had more evidence about the [crime of] aggression as we have today”.

“We are speaking about different videos, aerial photography, GPS, the intercepted communication, data on mobile phones and so on,” Hamran told media at the launch.

But Hamran pointed out that when it comes to proving the crime of aggression, evidence of bombings or similar incidents are not enough

“We have to also link all these attacks with certain people who are in the leading positions, either in the political leadership or military leadership, and this will be an another big challenge ahead of us because we have to ensure that first of all, we have admissible evidence,” he explained.

Hamran added that the final step for the prosecutors will be to “evaluate, assess all the evidence, translate those [pieces of] evidence into two languages and prepare a truly international file for either domestic courts or international courts whether present or future”.

Ukraine prosecutor general Andriy Kostin said that the Kyiv judiciary had already “identified more than 600 people who are notified of suspicion in absentia of the crime of aggression against Ukraine”.

“We have already indictments against 312 of them and we have already 20 people convicted but the idea of a tribunal is to reach the highest military and political leadership of Russia,” Kostin said.

He added that Ukraine will continue to collect evidence and share it on an international level “to prepare a future tribunal to be served with initial information”.

In March 2022, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine established the Joint Investigation Team, an international investigative partnership supported by Eurojust.

The International Criminal Court joined the joint investigative team in April 2022, then Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia in May and Romania in October.

Just after the full-scale invasion started, the International Criminal Court announced the start of an investigation, while representatives of various European countries and international organisations also travelled to Ukraine to gather evidence about crimes committed.

Ukraine is not an ICC member state but it approached the Hague-based court in April 2014 after the annexation of Crimea, saying that it would recognise the jurisdiction of the court “for the purpose of identifying, prosecuting and judging the authors and accomplices on the acts committed on the territory of Ukraine”. Russia is also not an ICC member.

Source : Balkaninsight