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ICC Prosecutor requests judges for authorization to open investigation over Russian–Georgian war

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, October 15
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, filed a request to pre-trial judges for their authorization to open an investigation in Georgia, regarding the Georgia-Russian war of 2008.

The Prosecutor, who has been studying the details of the war for seven years, filed the 160-page request, detailing the alleged crimes attributed to the Georgian, Russian and South Ossetian sides for the period from 1 July to 10 October 2008.

If the judges consider that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with the investigation, they will grant authorization to the Prosecutor and the investigation will start.

“The situation in Georgia has been under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor since August 2008, when armed clashes between the breakaway region of South Ossetia and Georgia degenerated into an armed conflict, which also involved the Russian Federation,” reads the ICC Prosecutor’s request, submitted on October 13.

The Prosecutor finds a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed in the context of the armed conflict. This includes alleged crimes committed as part of a campaign to expel ethnic Georgians from South Ossetia as well as attacks on peacekeepers by Georgian forces, as well as attacks on South Ossetian forces.

“Between 51 and 113 ethnic Georgian civilians were killed as part of a forcible displacement campaign conducted by South Ossetia's de facto authorities, with the possible participation of members of the Russian Armed Forces. Between 13,400 and 18,500 ethnic Georgians were forcibly displaced and more than 5,000 dwellings belonging to ethnic Georgians were reportedly destroyed as part of this campaign,” the statement of Fatou Bensouda reads.

Based on the evidence collected by the Office during the course of the investigation, the Prosecutor may request ICC Judges to issue either summons to appear or arrest warrants against those believed to be most responsible, no matter who the perpetrator, for atrocities committed in Georgia.

The Georgian side is in favour of launching an investigation. The Chair of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Nino Gvenetadze, expressed readiness to cooperate with the ICC Prosecutor, who is going to visit Georgia on October 15.

“This is a very important visit, Fatou Bensouda will carry out all necessary procedures within her competence and we will do our best to cooperate with her,” said Gvenetadze.