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ICC approves investigation into 2008 Georgia conflict

[JURIST] Judges for the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] have approved an investigation into the 2008 Georgia/Russia [HRW profiles] conflict. Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda commented [statement] that the delay in ICC proceedings was prompted by independent investigations conducted by the governments of Georgia and Russia. Under the Rome Statute [materials], the ICC is barred from conducting its own investigation simultaneous to an investigation by national authorities. The Office of the Prosecutor requested authorization for the investigation because investigations in Georgia were indefinitely suspended in March of last year. Bensouda stated that her office "continues to monitor relevant proceedings in Russia, which, according to the Office's information, are still on-going." The court will make preliminary findings which will determine whether further investigation or arrests are warranted.

Last October Fatou Bensouda sought to open an investigation [JURIST report] into allegations of war crimes committed during the 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict, and the matter was assigned to Pre-Trail Chamber I [official decision]. Bensouda filed notice with the court [press release] that she intended to seek authorization to open an investigation because "there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed in Georgia in the context of the armed conflict of August 2008." In 2010 representatives from Russia met with ICC prosecutors [JURIST report] to discuss claims of war crimes allegedly committed by Georgian soldiers during the conflict in South Ossetia in August 2008. In 2009 Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] issued a report [report] detailing the human rights violations and civilian deaths that occurred during the conflict. That conflict occurred when Russia sent its military into Georgia in response to a Georgian bid to strike South Ossetia, an area heavily populated by Russians. The US has taken the position that both nations committed human rights violations [JURIST report] during that conflict. Georgia brought a case [JURIST report] before the International Court of Justice in August 2008, shortly after Russia sent troops into Georgia.

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