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Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, following judicial authorisation to commence an investigation into the Situation in Georgia

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Today, the Office of the Prosecutor ("Office") of the International Criminal Court ("ICC") has been authorised by the Judges in the Pre-Trial Chamber I ("PTC") to commence an investigation into the alleged ICC crimes occurring on the territory of Georgia between 1 July 2008 and 10 October 2008.

The Office had made a request for authorisation from the PTC on 13 October 2015, following its preliminary examination into the situation in Georgia since August 2008, in the course of which it gathered information on alleged crimes attributed to the three parties involved in the armed conflict – the Georgian armed forces, the South Ossetian forces, and the Russian armed forces.

The timing of that request was determined largely by the pace, and eventually, lack of national proceedings. Under the complementarity principle in the Rome Statute, the ICC cannot proceed if national authorities are already undertaking (or have undertaken) genuine domestic proceedings into the same cases. Until recently, the competent national authorities of both Georgia and Russia were engaged in conducting investigations against those who appeared to be most responsible for some of the identified crimes. These investigative measures, despite some attendant challenges and delays, appeared to be progressing. However, in March of last year, relevant national proceedings in Georgia were indefinitely suspended. The Office continues to monitor relevant proceedings in Russia, which, according to the Office's information, are still on-going.

The findings made by the PTC at this stage are preliminary: they are made for the purpose of deciding whether an investigation is warranted. The decision does not make any determinative findings on the guilt or innocence of particular persons. Only if and when, based on the evidence collected, there are reasonable grounds to believe a person is criminally responsible for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, will I request the judges to issue an arrest warrant or summons to appear.

The Office's own investigators will collect the necessary evidence, independently and impartially, and from a variety of sources. The investigation will take as long as needed to gather the required evidence.

The Office counts on the full support and cooperation of all parties throughout the investigation.

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Source : Office of the Prosecutor