Tuesday, 13 December ‘22

This week’s overview of key events and links to essential reading.

Tuesday, 13 December ‘22

This week’s overview of key events and links to essential reading.

Tuesday, 13 December, 2022


Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Four Russian Soldiers to be Tried for Torture

The Kharkiv regional prosecutor's office sent an indictment to the court against four Russian soldiers for tortures of the ATO participants in the Kharkiv region. The suspects are currently in custody.

The Ukrainian investigation established that at the beginning of September 2022, during the occupation of the Borova settlement in the Izyum district of Kharkiv region, two mercenaries and two Russian servicemen tortured three former participants of the anti-terrorist operation (ATO), as Ukraine describes those who fought in the east of the country in 2014-15.

“They put plastic ties on the men's hands and bags on their heads. After that, they were kidnapped and kept in a pit at a recreation centre without water and food. The occupiers beat one of the ATO participants with a hammer on his limbs,” the statement read.

The defendants interrogated the men in order to obtain information about residents of Borova who fought Russia in 2014-2015. After torturing them, the Russian soldiers released the victims.

Three other Russian soldiers are suspected of the looting of civilians in Izyum, in Kharkiv region. They are alleged to have threatened to shoot the victims if they refused to hand over their money.

UN – Daily Information About Russia’s War Crimes

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk stated that he was receiving daily reports of Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

“Information continues to emerge about summary executions, torture, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and sexual violence against women, girls and men,” he told media in Kyiv at the end of a four-day visit to Ukraine.

His office also published a new report detailing summary executions and attacks on individual civilians by Russian troops in northern Ukraine from February to April.

“The UN has, so far, documented the violent deaths of 441 civilians (341 men, 72 women, 20 boys and eight girls) in the three regions in the initial six weeks of the Russian invasion alone,” a statement read.

Türk said that his office was working to corroborate allegations of additional killings in these areas and in parts of Kharkiv and Kherson regions recently retaken by Ukrainian forces.

There were “strong indications that the summary executions documented in the report constitute the war crime of willful killing,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovakia and Slovenia all filed declarations of intervention to UN’s International Court of Justice in the case concerning allegations of genocide against Russia.

The court had already received 24 statements from countries that support Ukraine's position in this case.

Sexual Violence Investigation Procedures

The prosecutor general's office held consultations with the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the protection of victims of sexual violence in war.

Iryna Didenko, lead prosecutor for conflict-related sexual violence, said that this would help the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office to improve its own procedures.

The ICC's Victim and Witness Protection Programme, designed for those at risk, also includes services such as lifelong assistance and psychological support. According to Didenko, such protection could be introduced in Ukraine as well.

“Investigations in the de-occupied territories prove that Russian servicemen commit sexual violence against all citizens. The age of the victims is from four to 82 years,” her office said in a statement.

Ukraine Doesn’t Need Military Courts - Supreme Court Head

Supreme Court chairman Vsevolod Knyazev said he opposed the creation of military courts for war crimes trials, arguing that this was an expensive process that would take more than a year to implement.

“Instead, the introduction of specialisation of judges is a progressive process that has many advantages,” he told a forum of the Association of Lawyers of Ukraine dedicated to the military transformation of justice. “At the same time, special attention should be paid to the training of judges considering war-related criminal proceedings.”

He noted that the judges of local and appellate courts currently dealt with criminal proceedings related to war and war crimes.

“Half of the cases that have reached the courts of the first instance have already been considered on their merits, and in most cases the verdicts are not appealed. This means that the adopted decisions are legal and fair in the opinion of all participants in the process,” Knyazev said.

Torture Chamber in De-occupied Kherson

The Kherson regional prosecutor's office reported the discovery of  a Russian  torture chamber in the administrative court building of a nearby community.

According to preliminary information, the occupiers detained pro-Ukrainian civilians in the holding cells. During the investigation, law enforcement officers discovered physical evidence including lists of 112 citizens who could be subjected to physical and psychological pressure.

“Currently, law enforcement officers are identifying all victims of the actions of representatives of the aggressor country. ... The work on establishing the locations of torture chambers and illegal places of detention of people continue,” the statement raid.

(Official photos of how the Ukrainian law enforcement officers documented the war crimes in Kherson, Odesa, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv regions.)

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