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Russia declines to cooperate with International Criminal Court over 2008 war investigation

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, February 3
Russia will not take part in the investigation being conducted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of Hague - which concerns the conflict with Georgia in 2008 - as Russia has not ratified the Rome Statute, Russia’s Justice Ministry said.

Russia signed the statute in 2000; however, it has not yet ratified it.

Once it has become known that the ICC satisfied Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s complaint and allowed her to investigate the August War of 2008, Moscow did not rule out that it will review its attitude towards the court.

As Russia’s Foreign Ministry’s official representative Maria Zakharova said, Russia is greatly disappointed, as the investigation is planned to be conducted against Ossetian and Russian soldiers.

The ICC Prosecutor says that Russia’s position will not hinder the investigation process.

Responding to the Russian position, Georgian lawmakers have stated that if Russia was justified in the war as the Federation insists, it should not be afraid of the investigation.

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; the appeal was subsequently met.

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, and 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 homes belonging to ethnic Georgians were reportedly destroyed as part of this campaign,” Bensouda said.

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

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is the treaty that established the ICC. It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on 17 July 1998 and it entered into force on 1 July 2002. As of 6 January 2015, 123 states are party to the statute. Among other things, the statute establishes the court's functions, jurisdiction and structure.