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Georgia welcomes investigation of Russian-Georgian war by International Criminal Court

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, January 28
The Minister of Justice stated today that she welcomed the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorising an investigation into possible war crimes committed during the conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008.

Minister Thea Tsulukiani stressed that all the legal formulations of the solution were “in line with Georgian interests” and included all the issues raised by the Georgian side when they met with the Court’s Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, in October last year.

“The ICC solution officially labels it an international conflict between Russia and Georgia.

“It also highlights that South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) is a Georgian region and not an independent republic.

“A significant part of the document is dedicated to the alleged ethnic cleansing of Georgians in South Ossetia. In particular, as mentioned by the ICC judge, there might be evidence of a preconceived plan to eradicate Georgian roots in the region,” the Minister said.

Tsulukiani stressed that the ICC document emphasised that nearly 8,000 Georgian homes were ransacked or destroyed, while 100 ethnic Georgians were premeditatedly murdered killed, and up to 20,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) were forced from the region following the conflict.

“As the ICC decision says, the actions allegedly aimed to change the ethnic situation in the region to remove historical, cultural and ethnic links between Georgia and South Ossetia,” the Minister said.

The Minister underscored the fact that the Georgian side also welcomed choosing a certain period for investigation by the Court, between July 1 and October 10, 2008.

“It will enable us to provide all necessary evidence that the war had very serious preconditions,” the Minister said, noting that the Georgian and Russian sides would send their investigation documentations to the ICC prosecutor in one month’s time.

“We will very actively cooperate with the investigation,” Tsulukiani said.

Yesterday ,Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC authorised prosecutor Bensouda to proceed with an investigation into the crimes allegedly committed in and around South Ossetia, Georgia, between July 1 and October 10, 2008.

The Chamber made this decision after examining the prosecutor’s request and supporting material, including representations by or on behalf of 6,335 victims of the conflict.

“The Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorised its Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to proceed with an investigation for the crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction, allegedly committed in and around Georgia’s occupied region of South Ossetia between 1 July and 10 October 2008,” reads the ICC website.

Pre-Trial Chamber I is composed of Judge Joyce Aluoch, Presiding, Judge Cuno Tarfusser and Judge Peter Kovacs.

“On 13 October 2015, the ICC Prosecutor submitted her ‘Request for authorisation of an investigation pursuant to article 15’ of the Rome Statute, asking for authorization from Pre-Trial Chamber I to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Georgia, for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in and around South Ossetia in 2008. On 4 December 2015, the Chamber received representations by or on behalf of 6,335 victims on this matter,” the ICC said.