The Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Herman von Hebel is paying a visit to Tbilisi, as part of the ongoing investigation for crimes within the ICC jurisdiction allegedly committed during the 2008 Russia-Georgia war.
Von Hebel met with Georgian Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani today.
The Minister confirmed Georgia’s full commitment to cooperation with the ICC in the process of the investigation.
Following the meeting Von Hebel told local media that an ICC country office is planned to open in Tbilisi in January of 2018. ICC officials will meet with victims, question witnesses and carry out other investigation-related activities at the office.
While in Tbilisi, the ICC registrar will also hold meetings with:
- Internally displaced people who had to leave their homes following the 2008 war;
- The diplomatic corps accredited in Georgia;
- The United Nations and European Union delegations in Georgia;
- Local media representatives;
- Students and actors in civil society.
Von Hebel, on behalf of the ICC, visited Tbilisi earlier this July and signed an agreement with the government of Georgia to facilitate the Court's activities and ongoing investigations in the country.
He said that this agreement will facilitate the expeditious fulfilment of the ICC's mandate within the territory of Georgia, which will help to bring justice to the victims of the 2008 conflict.
A top prosecutor from the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, announced in October 2015 that she wanted to investigate possible crimes committed during the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia, noting there was "strong evidence” crimes had been committed during the short but violent war.
Bensouda indicated between 51 and 113 ethnic Georgian civilians were killed during a "forcible displacement campaign” conducted by South Ossetia's de facto authorities, with the possible participation of members of the Russian Armed Forces.
In January 2015 the ICC authorised Bensouda to proceed with the investigation.
The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber made this decision after examining the prosecutor’s request and supporting material, including representations by or on behalf of 6,335 victims of the conflict.
In February 2015 Russia refused to cooperate with the ICC within the investigation, stressing that the armed conflict was provoked by Georgia. Meanwhile the Georgian side said it will fully cooperate with the ICC in the investigation process.
The ICC authorised the Prosecutor to proceed with an investigation for the crimes allegedly committed in and around South Ossetia, Georgia, between 1 July and 10 October 2008. This time period gives an opportunity to investigate not only the five days of actual war but also the period before the conflict, during which, the Georgian side says, crimes were committed frequently by the separatists backed up by Russia.