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Coalition backs war crimes probe over war in Ukraine

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS (AP) – A coalition of nations that asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation over possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine met yesterday to pledge support for the probe.

The court’s chief prosecutor urged them to stand up in support of the global legal order.

“If we don’t put our money where our collective mouths are, if we don’t give actual support but we wring our hands with lamentations, things can get worse,” Prosecutor Karim Khan told a meeting of representatives from more than 20 nations at the British ambassador’s residence in The Hague. “And history will not judge us well, victims throughout the world will not judge us well.”

Britain said before the meeting that it was boosting its support for the ICC war crimes in Ukraine with cash and specialist staff as it hosted the meeting of the coalition of nations that back the investigation.

France announced it will provide magistrates, investigators and experts and EUR500,000 in extra funding, which may be increased if needed. France is the third-largest contributor to the ICC budget.

The meeting came a day after United States (US)Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration has made a formal determination that Russian troops have committed war crimes in Ukraine and would work with others to prosecute offenders.

Western leaders arrive at the North Atlantic Council at NATO Headquarters in Brussels for a summit on Ukraine. PHOTO: AP

The US is not a member state of the ICC, but could still assist a prosecution there by helping to gather evidence against Russian forces in Ukraine, using some of the vast abilities it has deployed to track and monitor what has been happening in the conflict.

The US could also provide support and backing to a commission of inquiry established by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council.

The meeting in The Hague happened as Biden and other NATO leaders gathered in Brussels on the one-month anniversary of the Russian invasion.

The United Kingdom (UK) is a member of the court and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said London will donate GBP1 million in extra funding for the ICC and assign soldiers with expertise in intelligence gathering to the court to help uncover evidence of war crimes.

A war crimes team in the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command is also being mobilized to help the investigation.

“Today, the UK is uniting a coalition of international partners to provide the funding and law enforcement support to reinforce the ICC’s investigation into potential war crimes in Ukraine,” Raab said in a statement ahead of the meeting.

“President Putin and his commanders should know that they will be held to account for their actions, and risk ending up spending the rest of their days behind bars.”

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