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ICC investigates war crimes of Russia – Georgia war

By Mariam Chanishvili
Thursday, October 5
On October 3 International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it has started investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity conducted during the Russia-Georgia war 2008.

The ICC will study the period of July 1 to October 10 2008.

The Office of the Prosecutor has "gathered information on alleged crimes attributed to the three parties involved in the armed conflict – the Georgian armed forces, the South Ossetian forces, and the Russian armed forces," ICC officials stated on Tuesday.

Phakiso Mochochoko, Director Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, Office of the Prosecutor, stressed that the whole Georgian government is cooperating with the investigation and that if Russia refuses to cooperate, it won’t make the investigation impossible.

“Prosecutors are working really hard, they are in and out of Georgia every month,” he said.

ICC officials have also noted that investigating this case is a big step for the court because it is the first time it will be investigating a conflict outside Africa. For the past thirteen years the ICC has been operating in eight African countries.

Georgia ratified the Rome Statute on September 5, 2003. As a result of this, ICC may exercise its jurisdiction over crimes listed in the Rome Statute committed on the territory of Georgia or by its nationals from December 1, 2003 onwards

ICC gave an update on the situation in Georgia at the session held at Tbilisi Marriott Hotel on Tuesday. The representatives of ICC also provided information on the organization’s activities, its mandate, and judicial process including different roles of the Office of the Prosecutor and the Registry.

Herman Von Hebe, the Registrar of ICC, noted that it is important to show to the victims of crimes that “justice is not an abstract thing”.

“Victims play crucial part and they can participate through a representative as well. The witnesses are entitled to protection, otherwise they won’t be willing to testify,” he said.

During the session, Herman Von Hebe also discussed the functions of Registry, which is a neutral organ of the Court and is responsible for three main categories of services: judicial support, management and external affairs.

“The Registry is responsible for public information and outreach,” he said.

Representatives of the ICC attending the event included Mr. Herman Von Hebel, Registrar; Ms. Alma Taso DELJKOVIC, Board member, Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims; Mr. Pieter De Baan, Director of the Trust Fund for Victims; Mr. Phakiso Mochochoko, Director Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, Office of the Prosecutor; Mr. Fadi El Abdallah, Spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit, Registry.