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The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday announced it has launched the largest “single field” investigation since its inception 20-years ago into war crimes committed during Russia’s deadly war in Ukraine.
“During this mission, my office will focus on a set of core objectives aimed at accelerating our independent investigations and strengthening synergy of investigative action with national authorities on the ground in Ukraine,” ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said.
A team of 42 investigators, forensic experts and support personnel have been sent to Ukraine to provide support to authorities investigating war crimes.
“This represents the largest ever single field deployment by my office since its establishment,” he said.
The investigators will work to collect testimonial accounts and ensure forensic and digital evidence is properly collected and recorded.
The ICC will be working with experts from France, the Netherlands and other states to assist Ukrainian authorities in identifying victims’ remains, ballistics analysis and the preservation of forensic evidence.
“Our forensic experts will map the existing action of national crime scene investigators in order to trace workflows and strengthen chain of custody with respect to hard evidence,” Khan said.
ICC prosecutor said that 21 states had agreed to provide expert support to the investigations while another 20 had pledged financial support for the on-the-ground probes.
Russian forces have been accused of committing gross human rights abuses after the discovery of mass graves and accounts of torture and executions surfaced amid its three-month-long invasion of Ukraine.
More than 13 million Ukrainians have fled their homes as a result of the war with more than 6.2 million fleeing to neighboring nations, according to figures by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The UN reported Monday that there have been at least 7,564 civilian casualties in Ukraine, including 3,668 killed and 3,896 injured.
But the top international agency has repeatedly warned that “the actual figures are considerably higher.”
Hostile fighting in parts of Ukraine has delayed accurate reporting on civilian casualties.