Germany’s prosecutor general said Sunday that his office had collected “hundreds” of pieces of evidence showing war crimes by Russian forces in Ukraine, calling for an international effort to bring leaders to justice.
“At the moment we are focusing on mass killings in Bucha and attacks on Ukraine’s civil infrastructure,” prosecutor Peter Frank told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
He said most of the evidence came from interviews with Ukrainian refugees, and the goal was now to “prepare for a possible later court case — whether in Germany or with our foreign partners or an international court”.
Frank’s office has previously used the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows the prosecution of certain grave crimes regardless of where they took place, to try Syrians over atrocities committed during the country’s civil war.
Under the same principle, a group of people from Myanmar last month filed a criminal complaint in Germany, accusing their country’s military of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Frank said his office had begun its Ukraine inquiry in March 2022.
“We are not targeting certain specific people in the investigation but rather are collecting information and evidence,” he said.
He acknowledged, however, that prosecution of suspected war criminals in Germany was possible only if they were in the country.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock last month called for a tribunal to get around the fact that the International Criminal Court (ICC), despite launching it own investigation last year, cannot prosecute Russia for any possible war crimes since neither Russia nor Ukraine are members of the Hague-based court.
“Who do we want to bring to justice? The leaders of state — those who took the decision to start the war — and the people who at the highest level of the military implement this decision,” Frank said.
“That would in my opinion call for a reckoning at the international level — whether via the International Criminal Court or before a special tribunal is in the end up to the international community.”
In the Kyiv suburb of Bucha alone, hundreds of bodies were discovered after the Russian army was driven out last March.
The killings sparked international condemnation and accusations of war crimes, which Moscow has repeatedly denied.
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