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During a conference on crimes committed in Ukraine, organized in The Hague, the Ukrainian president called on Thursday for the establishment of a “special court” to investigate the Russian invasion. The same day, at least 20 people were killed by Russian strikes on a city in central Ukraine – bombings described as an “open terrorist act” by Volodymyr Zelensky.
President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday (July 14th) called for the establishment of a “special Ukrainian court” to investigate the Russian invasion, addressing an international conference on war crimes in Ukraine organized in The Hague , in the Nederlands.
“Current judicial institutions cannot bring all the culprits to justice. Therefore, a special court is needed to try the crimes of Russian aggression against Ukraine,” Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video shown at the conference.
“The question deserves to be studied”
Political, diplomatic and judicial leaders from around the world have gathered in The Hague, the seat of international justice, for a conference on accountability for crimes committed in Ukraine since February 24. Organized by the International Criminal Court (ICC) the European Commission and the Netherlands, the event aimed to ensure that crimes committed since the Russian invasion “do not go unpunished”.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan opened an investigation into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine in early March, after receiving the green light from 43 states.
But this court, which has been prosecuting the perpetrators of the worst atrocities in the world for twenty years, cannot prosecute the crime of aggression if the country has not downgraded the Rome Statute, which is the case of Russia and Ukraine.
The question of a special court is therefore “a very valid point”, Wopke Hoekstra, Dutch Foreign Minister, told reporters after the conference. “I think the question deserves to be studied,” he added. “So I can imagine that we are considering setting up such a tribunal. The Netherlands examines this openly,” he continued, conceding however that it “probably won’t be easy.”
Wopke Hoekstra, Karim Khan and Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice, recalled the need to “work together” to achieve justice.
The conference led several countries to pay more money to the ICC for its investigation and to send experts to Ukraine, Wopke Hoekstra said.
“We must be coordinated, dialogue and communicate” to make international law triumph, “in order to avoid the scenes of hell that we have seen”, declared Karim Khan in front of the journalists.
>> To read – Ukraine: comment on judging war crimes
Russia denies the abuses of which its troops are accused
Some 14 European states are investigating crimes in Ukraine and a European joint investigation team has been set up.
Russia systematically denies all the abuses of which its troops are accused: bombardments of civilians, summary executions, rapes. And she in turn accuses Ukraine of war crimes.
Two Russian soldiers were sentenced in May to 11.5 years in prison by a Ukrainian court for bombing civilian areas, while another was jailed for life earlier this month for the murder of a civilian.
There is no overall assessment of the civilian victims of the conflict. The UN has recorded nearly 5,000 confirmed deaths, including more than 300 children, but acknowledges that the true number is likely much higher.
Thursday, at least 20 people were killed by Russian strikes on a city in central Ukraine, bombardments described as an “open terrorist act” by the Ukrainian president.
These strikes took place at the end of the morning on a region of the country hitherto relatively spared from the war, several hundred kilometers from the front lines.