Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Kareem Khan announced the completion of the investigation phase of the 2008 war in Georgia.
This is stated in the statement of the ICC Prosecutor.
“I can confirm that, except for the cases pending before the ICC, my Office will not conduct new investigations into the alleged criminal responsibility of other individuals or actions in the context of the situation in Georgia. Accordingly, in the absence of material changes in circumstances, the investigation phase of the situation in Georgia is now closed. I have informed the Georgian authorities of this decision,” Khan said.
Focused efforts on the prosecution
The Prosecutor stressed that the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Georgia is “far from over.” Efforts will now be focused on “ensuring the successful prosecution of individuals against whom an arrest warrant has been issued.”
“Since the investigation began, my Office has been examining evidence of alleged crimes committed by all parties to the armed conflict. It has carried out its work in an independent, impartial, and objective manner, in partnership with victims, civil society, and the fruitful cooperation of relevant national authorities,” he said.
The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants
Based on the results of the investigations, on June 30, 2022, the Pre-Trial Chamber and the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for three persons in the context of the situation in Georgia: Mr. Mikhail Mindzaev, Hamlet Guchmazov, and David Sanakoev,” the statement said.
“The charges that I brought and for which arrest warrants were issued a focus on illegal detention, torture and ill-treatment, hostage-taking and further illegal displacement of civilians among ethnic Georgians in the context of the occupation by the Russian Federation,” he said.
According to him, these crimes represent a broader pattern of criminality, which included widespread looting and destruction of Georgian villages and homes, as well as denial of the right of return of almost the entire Georgian population of the Tskhinvali region of Georgia.
In addition, it was pointed out the participation in war crimes of the late Vyacheslav Borisov – Major General of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and Deputy Commander of the Airborne Troops at the time of the events.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued three arrest warrants for three individuals concerning the investigation of the 2008 armed conflict between Russia and Georgia.
Chronology of the investigation stage
On June 24, 2022, the Pre-Trial Chamber, based on the Prosecutor’s application of March 10, 2022, concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that each of the three suspects was responsible for war crimes during the 2008 armed conflict between Russia and Georgia.
The Pre-Trial Chamber instructed the Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Peter Lewis, to prepare a request for cooperation to arrest and surrender the suspects for trial.
On January 27, 2016, the Chamber authorized the Prosecutor to continue the investigation of crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) allegedly committed in South Ossetia, Georgia, between July 1 and October 10, 2008.
Russia’s invasion of Georgia: the war
The 2008 war led to Russia’s invasion of Georgia and, in effect, the removal of South Ossetia and another region, Abkhazia, from Tbilisi’s control. On August 7, 2022, 14 years have passed since the Russian Federation began its aggressive scheme to undermine the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and inviolability of internationally recognized borders in Eastern Europe and beyond.
9 out of 12 regions of Georgia have been bombed by Russian aviation; Russian strategic bombers and military aircraft shelled more than 30 cities and villages, including Tbilisi and Kutaisi; cluster bombs and other types of prohibited weapons were used.
As a result, hundreds of civilians and military personnel were killed and wounded; thousands of residents joined the half a million internally displaced persons and refugees expelled during previous waves of ethnic cleansing; 53 Georgian villages in and around the Tskhinvali/South Ossetia region were destroyed; 35,000 houses belonging to ethnic Georgians were deliberately burned and destroyed.
Russia later declared that it considers these two regions independent states, which virtually any form has not done in the world.