The charges relate to crimes committed by Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory following the massive Russian attack on February 24, 2022.
The Clooney Foundation for Justice, the charity of lawyer Amal Clooney and her husband, Hollywood actor George Clooney, has asked German prosecutors to investigate three counts of alleged war crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine.
Applications are submitted to the German prosecutor’s office, as German law enshrines the principle of universal jurisdiction – the country’s law enforcement agencies can initiate a criminal investigation into crimes committed outside of Germany, regardless of the citizenship of the suspects or victims or any of them related to Germany. Furthermore, particularly in these three cases, some families of victims or victims live in Germany, while others are willing to go and testify in the country.
The suspects are senior and middle-level commanders of the Russian army.
Collection of evidence
CFJ represents 16 victims and victims’ families.
Since the beginning of the war, the Docket, a separate foundation project made up of international lawyers and investigators, has been collecting evidence and preparing materials detailing crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine.
Their work includes extensive field investigations in Ukraine, as well as extensive analysis of open source data.
As the foundation explains, if German authorities consider the evidence presented against specific people to be credible, they can open a criminal investigation and issue arrest warrants for the suspects, who would allow them to be detained, extradited and prosecuted. Arrest warrants can be executed in countries outside of Germany through the Europol and Interpol systems. The International Criminal Court can also issue arrest warrants for key suspects.
German courts occupy a leading position in the world in the investigation of international crimes in accordance with the principle of universal jurisdiction. They are investigating crimes committed by the Islamic State group against the Yazidis, an ethno-religious minority in Iraq.
What kind of cases
The first case concerns the shelling of the village of Sergeevka in the Odessa region with X-22 missiles in the summer of 2022, which killed 22 people and injured 40 others. As mentioned in the collected dossier, they were all civilians, and there were no military installations around. The victims were relatives of the 11 victims, as well as the three survivors, two of whom were children. According to the foundation, the use of Kh-22 missiles, with low accuracy and high power, can be classified as prohibited methods of warfare. The high command of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Federation can be responsible for this.
The second case concerns the detention, torture and killing of four men in the Kharkov region. They were detained in March 2022 by the forces of the self-proclaimed “LPR”, after which nothing was known about their fate for a long time, and after a few months their bodies were discovered. The victims are the families of the three killed, and the suspects are four commanders of the “LPR” and Russian army units that control the surrounding territory.
The third case is about murders, torture, sexual violence and robbery in March 2022 in the Kyiv region. The case records the murders of at least 28 people, five cases of rape, and the torture of eight people. Victims in the case include the family of one of those killed and a man who was imprisoned and tortured, and five Russian commanders who led units that participated in the occupation are suspected of crimes.
I am David Wyatt, a professional writer and journalist for Buna Times. I specialize in the world section of news coverage, where I bring to light stories and issues that affect us globally. As a graduate of Journalism, I have always had the passion to spread knowledge through writing.