ICC Proceeds with S. Ossetia War Crimes Investigation

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated to Georgian television that the court does not settle disputes between countries, but is instead charged with finding those culpable for committing crimes in disputed regions.

“It is not our mandate to talk about territorial borders. Our goal is to find individuals responsible for committing crimes. This requires solid evidence…which leads to bringing up charges against the perpetrators," Bensouda said in an interview with the Georgian Public Broadcaster.

Bensouda emphasized that her office is monitoring the on going investigation regarding war crimes committed during the 2008 Russian-Georgian War.

“As for Georgia, the investigation was closed in March last year. Georgia is a member of the Rome Statute, meaning that it is obliged to investigate crimes committed on its territory. However, if the country is unable, our office becomes involved in the process.”

According to Bensouda, both Russia and Georgia were responsible for attacks against international peacekeepers in South Ossetia.

"Crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide are within our jurisdiction. The office will investigate, for example, the murder of peacekeepers. We have information that there were attacks on peacekeepers both from Russia and Georgia. We are going to obtain further information about this," she said.

Bensouda also stated that the investigation will continue with or without the cooperation of the South Ossetian authorities or the Russian government. 

 “South Ossetia is and was a part Georgia when the alleged crimes were committed. That is why we have to investigate crimes committed throughout Georgia, including South Ossetia. It is too early to say if we will be able to cooperate with the de-facto SouthOssetian government, but I can tell you that we will send a request,” Bensouda concluded.

The International Criminal Court authorized Bensouda to proceed with an investigation on war crimes committed in and around South Ossetia during the period of intense hostilities before and after the five-day war.

01 February 2016 14:17