Fatou Bensouda: South Ossetian and Georgian Forces Committed War Crime

The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has arrived in Tbilisi to kick off the investigation of war crimes in the Russia-Georgia war in 2008.

The ICC representative’s summary stated ““based on the information available, it does not appear at this stage that members of the Russian armed forces were among those most responsible for these crimes.

“The Prosecution has gathered information on alleged crimes attributed to all three parties to the conflict: the Georgian armed forces, the Russian armed forces and South Ossetian forces. The crimes are alleged to have taken place in South Ossetia and areas within the “buffer zone” from at least 7 August until 10 October 2008. The Prosecution has requested authorisation to investigate the situation from 1 July 2008 in order to be able to also investigate precursor events that immediately preceded the formal commencement of the hostilities. This will enable it determine, in the context of any future investigation, whether a sufficient nexus exists between such acts and the required contextual elements for war crimes or crimes against humanity. The end date specified for any authorised investigation is the 10 October 2008, the date by which, at the latest, Russian armed forces are reported to have withdrawn behind the administrative boundary line of South Ossetia”

According to the summary, the information available to the prosecution indicated that between 51 and 113 ethnic Georgian civilians were killed in an act of forcible displacement conducted by South Ossetian forces with “A further estimated 13,400 to 18,500 ethnic Georgians were forcibly displaced from South Ossetia and the 20 km “buffer zone” created alongside the administrative boundary line between South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia, while over 5,000 dwellings belonging to ethnic Georgians were reportedly destroyed.

“The Prosecution finds that there is a reasonable basis to believe that between at least between 7 August and 10 October 2008, the South Ossetian forces have committed at the minimum the following war crimes in the context of an armed conflict: war crimes of wilful killing/murder, destroying the enemy’s property/the property of an adversary and pillage. These crimes took place in the context of and were associated with the armed conflict.”

According to the summary there is conflicting information on the involvement of the Russian Armed Forces, with credible reports indicating that at least some members of the group participated in the crimes, while in other instances they stood by passively, and in others still they intervened to prevent such crimes. The summary reads “based on the information available, it does not appear at this stage that members of the Russian armed forces were among those most responsible for these crimes.”

The summary cites there is also a reasonable basis to conclude that both South Ossetian forces and Georgian armed forces committed a war crime involving attacking personnel or objects involved in a peacekeeping mission.

16 October 2015 14:58