There is enough evidence to open an investigation into possible war crimes that may have taken place during the brief war between Russia and Georgia seven years ago, an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor says.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested to open the inquiry on Tuesday at the court’s headquarters in the Hague in the Netherlands, saying that Russia’s and Georgia’s investigations were no longer sufficient. ICC’s judges will now rule on whether a probe should begin.
The war broke out between pro-Russian South Ossetian separatists, and Russian and Georgian troops, on Aug. 7, 2008 in the semi-autonomous region of South Ossetia. The area is officially part of Georgia but is recognized by a handful of countries as an independent state. Ossetians speak a language similar to those in Iran and have been fighting for autonomy for South Ossetia from Georgia since the fall of the Soviet Union. North Ossetia is a part of Russia.
Russian troops, who were helping the separatists, eventually entered South Ossetia and Georgia. A ceasefire was agreed upon on Aug. 15, 2008.
Bensouda says that in the period spanning July 1 and Oct. 10, 2008, between 13,400 and 18,500 ethnic Georgians were forcibly displaced from the South Ossetian territory, with many of their homes destroyed and looted. She also said that between 51 and 113 ethnic Georgian civilians were killed in the displacement, and that both South Ossetian and Georgian troops committed war crimes by targeting peacekeeping missions.
Since the conflict, Russia has recognized South Ossetia’s independence in defiance of the West.