Ukraine's judiciary has identified "a few thousand" alleged war crimes cases in Donbass, its prosecutor general said on Tuesday, visiting The Hague, as Russian forces advance in the eastern region, their strategic priority. .
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“We have identified a few thousand cases on what we see in Donbass,” Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said at a press conference in the city of The Hague, Netherlands, where she met several international counterparts.
She clarified that these included suspicions of transfers of people, adults, but also possibly children, to different parts of the Russian Federation.
But it can also concern the torture of people, the killing of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure, she added.
The Ukrainian authorities do not have access to the areas of Donbass under Russian control, but they question evacuees and prisoners of war, explained Ms. Venediktova during a press conference at the headquarters of the European judicial agency Eurojust.
In total, Ukraine has identified 15,000 cases of alleged war crimes across the country since the Russian invasion on February 24, she added.
The Ukrainian justice also identified 600 suspects for the “key” crime of aggression, including “senior military officials, politicians and propaganda agents of the Russian Federation”, and nearly 80 suspects for alleged war crimes on Ukrainian soil, she added.
Two Russian soldiers were sentenced to 11.5 years in prison by a Ukrainian court on Tuesday for bombing civilian areas, while another was jailed for life earlier this month for the murder of a civilian.
Judicial authorities from Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia have now joined the European Joint Investigation Team (JIT), set up in March by Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine with the support of Eurojust, and joined in April by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“Today is a momentous day as (the team) has three new members,” ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said at the press conference.
The ICC also hopes to open a field office in Kyiv in the coming weeks to have a more permanent base for its investigation in Ukraine, he added.
"We can't come and go," stressed the Briton, who this month sent to Ukraine the largest team of investigators ever deployed in the court's 20-year existence to investigate crimes against the nation. humanity and alleged war crimes.
Ukraine's prosecutor said she hoped her country would handle "95%" of cases, but some larger or more difficult cases could be handled by the ICC.