The Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ), a non-governmental organization founded by Amal and George Clooney, has filed three cases with Germany’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office, aiming to trigger an investigation into the war crimes allegedly committed by Russians in Ukraine, business news outlet Forbes reported on Oct. 26.
The CFJ is representing 16 victims and their family members, and their claims relate to crimes committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine following the full-scale invasion by the Russian Federation.
Since the conflict’s onset, the Docket initiative, a CFJ project, has been collecting evidence and documenting the crimes committed by Russian forces. This effort included field investigations in Ukraine and a thorough analysis of open-source data. The collected evidence was subsequently used to initiate cases in Germany under the principle of universal jurisdiction.
All three cases have been filed against senior and mid-level Russian commanders. The first case involves a missile strike in Odesa Oblast in the summer of 2022, resulting in civilian casualties. The second case pertains to the unlawful detention, torture, and execution of individuals in Kharkiv Oblast. The third case involves Russian unit commanders implicated in various violations during the occupation of Kyiv Oblast in March 2022.
If German authorities find the evidence convincing, they can initiate a criminal investigation and issue arrest warrants. Arrest warrants can be executed outside of Germany through Europol and Interpol systems. The International Criminal Court (ICC) can also issue arrest warrants for key suspects.
Once the investigations are initiated, Docket will continue to provide additional evidence to German prosecutors, coordinate with the Ukrainian prosecution, and offer support to survivors and their families.
Involvement of courts beyond Ukraine is crucial, said Marina Slobodyanyuk, the head of the investigative department at Truth Hounds.
Despite the efforts of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies to uncover Russian war crimes, they are overburdened and have limited capabilities to prosecute commanders and masterminds of these crimes. Therefore, Germany can significantly contribute to the pursuit of justice for Ukrainian victims.
While these three cases are the first to be filed in Germany under the principle of universal jurisdiction, the Docket team is working on bringing forth more cases.
The CFJ Foundation has also shared evidence with the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor’s Office to support the court’s efforts in holding Russia’s top leadership accountable for war crimes.
German courts have a history of attempting to prosecute international crimes. Previously, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office of Germany initiated an investigation into war crimes committed by Russia in Hostomel, Kyiv Oblast.
As of July 2023, over 10,000 civilian deaths have been documented as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine, though the actual numbers far exceed confirmed accounts. During the 17 months of the occupation, over 97,000 war crimes committed by Russians have been registered. Out of 383 suspects identified, 220 face charges, and 54 have been sentenced by Ukrainian courts.
Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine