ICC Prosecutor to Investigate Possible War Crimes in Ukraine

International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan on Feb. 28 has opened an investigation into possible war crimes or crimes against humanity in Ukraine, following the Russian invasion.

“Today, I wish to announce that I have decided to proceed with opening an investigation into the Situation in Ukraine, as rapidly as possible,” Khan, a British lawyer, said.

Although Ukraine was not a member of the ICC, it had awarded jurisdiction to the court, according to Khan, adding that there were grounds to launch the investigation based on a previous preliminary investigation on Crimea and the Donbas region published last year and the current conflict in Ukraine.

“I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine” from Feb. 20, 2014 onwards,” Khan said.

Khan added that he intends for the investigation to “encompass any new alleged crimes falling within the jurisdiction of my Office that are committed by any party to the conflict on any part of the territory of Ukraine” amid the Russian attack on Ukraine.

Khan said the next step was to go to ICC judges to approve the inquiry, but he suggested that it would be faster if an ICC state party referred the case to his office, “which would allow us to actively and immediately proceed with the Office’s independent and objective investigations.”

Last week, Khan said that the ICC had received multiple queries “with respect to the crime of aggression” but could not exercise “jurisdiction over this alleged crime” because neither Ukraine nor Russia were state parties to the founding Rome Statute of the ICC.

Earlier on Feb. 28, Lithuania called on the ICC to investigate possible war crimes committed by Russia and Belarus in Ukraine.

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