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ICC plans war crimes probe into Russian-Georgian conflict

By
Andrew V. Pestano
The International Criminal Court plans to open an investigation into possible crimes committed in the 2008 Russian-Georgian conflict, the first time Russia's actions will be investigated by the court. Pictured: Russian soldier looks at a destroyed van and ruins in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali on August 14, 2008. File photo by Anatoli Zhdanov/UPI
The International Criminal Court plans to open an investigation into possible crimes committed in the 2008 Russian-Georgian conflict, the first time Russia's actions will be investigated by the court. Pictured: Russian soldier looks at a destroyed van and ruins in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali on August 14, 2008. File photo by Anatoli Zhdanov/UPI | License Photo

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- The International Criminal Court plans to open an investigation into possible war crimes committed in the 2008 Russian-Georgian conflict, the first time Russia's actions will be investigated by the court.

The ICC, headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, assigned the case to a pre-trial chamber after prosecutor Fatou Bensouda declared her intent to submit a request to open an investigation on the conflict.

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"On the basis of the information available, prosecutor Bensouda has concluded that 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," the ICC wrote in a statement.

Judges of the pre-trial chamber will decide whether to authorize the prosecutor's request for an investigation.

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"The judges will have to consider whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation, upon examination of the prosecutor's request and the supporting material," the statement adds.

During the five-day conflict centered on the South Ossetia and Abkhazia provinces of Georgia, about 170 soldiers, 14 police and 228 civilians from Georgia were killed, about 67 Russian soldiers were killed and 365 South Ossetian servicemen and civilians were killed.

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The Human Rights Watch has accused South Ossettia, Georgia and Russia of war crimes during the conflict, saying South Ossetia of set up military positions near civilian locations, putting civilian locations, while Georgian forces allegedly failed to reduce risks to civilians. Meanwhile, the organization said Russia allegedly deliberately attacked civilians fleeing both regions.

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South Ossetia and Abkhazia are officially part of Georgia but have separate, unrecognized governments that are supported by Russia.

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