ICC sends ‘largest ever investigative team’ to Ukraine – Expat Guide to the Netherlands

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The International Criminal Court sent a 42-member team to Ukraine on Tuesday to investigate alleged war crimes since the Russian invasion in what it called the largest such deployment in its history.

The team includes investigators, forensic experts and support staff and will work with Ukrainian authorities, said Karim Khan, the ICC’s chief prosecutor based in The Hague.

“This represents the largest field deployment ever by my office since its inception,” Khan said in a statement. The ICC was created in 2002 to investigate the world’s worst crimes.

The team “will advance our investigations into crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and provide support to Ukrainian national authorities”, he added.

Khan thanked the Netherlands, where the tribunal is based, for sending a “significant number of Dutch national experts” to help the mission.

The court would also work with French experts who are already in Ukraine, he said.

The ICC prosecutor announced the opening of an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity just four days after the February 24 Russian invasion.

Khan traveled to Ukraine in April, traveling to the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where AFP reporters saw at least 20 bodies lying in the streets on April 2.

Khan said at the time that “Ukraine is a crime scene”.

Ukraine has blamed hundreds of civilian killings on Russian forces, but Russia has denied responsibility for the deaths and called the events in Bucha fake.

– ‘The law in action’ –

The ICC investigative team arriving in Ukraine now would seek leads and collect testimony “relevant to the military attacks”, Khan said in his statement.

They would also work with Ukrainian authorities to “strengthen the chain of custody with regard to hard evidence”, he said.

“Now more than ever, we need to show the law in action,” Khan added.

“It is essential that we demonstrate to survivors and families of victims that international law is relevant to their experience…to provide them with some comfort throughout the justice process.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he discussed the issue with visiting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Tuesday.

“One of the ways we are supporting is through the Dutch forensic investigation team that will join the Ukraine war crimes investigation this week,” Rutte tweeted.

Kuleba said there were “very positive” signs of bringing the perpetrators to justice, citing the ongoing lawsuit in the Netherlands over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

“The culprits will be identified and punished,” Kuleba said at a joint press conference with his Dutch counterpart Wopke Hoekstra.

Ukraine also “fully supports” the idea of ​​creating a special tribunal to prosecute Russia’s “crime of aggression”, a crime the ICC does not have the authority to prosecute, Kuleba added.

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