ICC sends ‘biggest’ investigative team to Ukraine

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday sent a 42-member team to Ukraine to investigate alleged war crimes since Russia’s invasion, calling it the largest deployment in its history.

Karim Khan, chief prosecutor at the Hague-based ICC, said the squad had investigators, forensic experts and support staff and would work with Ukrainian authorities.

“This represents the largest single field installation in my office since its inception,” Khan said in a statement. The ICC was established in 2002 to investigate the world’s worst crimes.

The team “will continue our investigation into the crime under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and provide assistance to the national authorities of Ukraine,” he added.

Khan thanked the Netherlands for sending a “significant number of Dutch national experts” to assist the mission, where the court is located.

The court will also work with French experts who are already in Ukraine, he said.

The ICC prosecutor announced an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity just four days after the February 24 Russian invasion.

Khan visited Ukraine in April, traveling to the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where AFP reporters saw at least 20 bodies lying on the streets on April 2.

Khan said at the time that “Ukraine is a crime scene”.

Ukraine has blamed Russian forces for killing hundreds of civilians, but Russia has denied responsibility for the killings and described the incident as “fake.”

– ‘Law in Action’ – The ICC investigative team, now in Ukraine, will look for leads and gather evidence from witnesses “relevant to the military offensive”, Khan said in a statement.

They will work with the Ukrainian authorities to “strengthen the chain of custody subject to strong evidence”.

Khan added, “There is a need to implement more laws now than ever before.”

“It’s important that we show the survivors and the families of the victims that international law is relevant to their experience … to bring them some comfort through the judicial process.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday he had discussed the issue with visiting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba.

“One of the ways we support this is through a Dutch forensic investigation team that will join the investigation of war crimes in Ukraine this week,” Root tweeted.

Citing the ongoing trial in the Netherlands over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine in 2014, Kuleba said there were “very positive” signs about bringing the perpetrators to justice.

“The perpetrators will be identified and punished,” Kuleba told a joint news conference with his Dutch counterpart Wapke Hoekstra.

Kuleba added that Ukraine “fully supports” the idea of ​​setting up a special tribunal to try Russia’s “crime of aggression”, a crime the ICC does not have the power to try.

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