The International Criminal Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber I (ICC) on Thursday issued arrest warrants for three men accused of having committed war crimes during the Russia-Georgia war in 2008.
Russian nationals Mikhail Mayramovich Mindzaev and Gamlet Guchmazov, along with Georgian national David Georgiyevich Sanakoev have been charged with various war crimes. The charges include illegal detention, torture and inhuman treatment, hostage-taking, and the illegal transfer of civilians, which the ICC says were committed between 8 and 27 August 2008.
On June 24 the ICC accepted the Prosecutor’s application for the arrest warrants, filed on March 10. The application contended that there were reasonable grounds to believe that these three suspects are liable for war crimes. The ICC observed that:
There are reasonable grounds to believe that civilians perceived to be ethnically Georgian were arrested in the South Ossetian part of Georgia, and subsequently detained, mistreated, and kept in harsh detention conditions in a detention centre in Tskhinvali, before being used as a bargaining tool by Russia and the South Ossetian de facto authorities, and used for an exchange of prisoners and detainees. As a result of the exchange, the detainees were forced to leave South Ossetia.
In August 2008 the Russian military intervened in Georgia’s conflict with a pro-Russian militia in South Ossetia. The intervention claimed hundreds of lives and displaced tens of thousands of ethnic Georgians. On January 27, 2016 the ICC began to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in and around South Ossetia between July 1 and October 10, 2008. These accusations involved murder, forced evictions, persecution and other crimes,