An International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor said Tuesday that she has evidence to launch an investigation into alleged war crimes during the brief war between Russia and Georgia in 2008. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda sought permission from the court’s headquarters in the Hague stating that inquiry from Russia and Georgia was not enough.
The investigation will be centered on a five-day conflict in August 2008 over South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia. If approved, the inquiry will focus on possible war crimes committed by pro-Russian separatists in South Ossetia and the Georgian army, a statement from the ICC read.
“Georgian peacekeepers were reportedly heavily shelled from South Ossetian positions, killing two Georgian peacekeepers and injuring five more. In a separate incident, ten Russian peacekeepers were reportedly killed and 30 wounded as a result of the attack against their facility by Georgian forces. The Russian peacekeeping force's base was reportedly destroyed, including a medical facility,” the statement read.
Between July 1 and Oct. 10, 2008, up to 18,500 ethnic Georgians were forcibly displaced from the South Ossetian territory and majority of them had their homes destroyed and looted, according to the statement quoting Bensouda. She also said that between 51 and 113 ethnic Georgians were killed in the violence during displacement.
South Ossetia is officially a part of Georgia but is considered an independent state by a few countries. Pro-Russian separatists, Russia and Georgia were engaged in a conflict which began on Aug. 7, 2008. Ossetians, who speak a language similar to Iranians', have been fighting for autonomy for South Ossetia from Georgia since the Soviet Union fell. North Ossetia is a part of Russia.
Russian troops, who reportedly helped separatists, entered South Ossetia and Georgia, following which both the countries agreed to a ceasefire on Aug. 15, 2008. Since the conflict, Russia has recognized South Ossetia’s independence in a rebellious move against the West.