Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili met on the sideline of the Munich Security Conference on February 13 with Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, who is investigating August 2008 war.
In late January the Hague-based court authorized its prosecutor to open investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the lead up to, during, and after the August, 2008 war in Georgia.
The Georgian PM’s office said that Kvirikashvili reiterated to the ICC Prosecutor Tbilisi’s “readiness to cooperate openly and transparently” with her office and the court “in order to fully investigate ethnic cleansing, torture of prisoners of war as well as the crimes of deliberate destruction of cultural heritage.”
Georgian Justice Minister, Tea Tsulukiani, who was also present at the meeting along with Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli and chair of parliamentary committee on foreign affairs MP Tedo Japaridze, said: “Our main weapon and tool is transparency and cooperation in order to show within the framework of this court that there was the ethnic cleansing of Georgians in 2008.”
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that it was a “timely meeting” especially after her office was authorized to open the investigation and added that she explained to the Georgian side plans of her office with respect of the probe.
ICC Prosecutor requested opening of the investigation in October 2015 and identified the following crimes, which she “reasonably believes” fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC:
- “Killings, forcible displacements and persecution of ethnic Georgian civilians, and destruction and pillaging of their property, by South Ossetian forces (with possible participation by Russian forces)”;
- “Intentionally directing attacks against Georgian peacekeepers by South Ossetian forces; and against Russian peacekeepers by Georgian forces.”
Georgia, as a state party to the Rome Statute through which the ICC was established, is obligated to fully cooperate with ICC – something that does not apply to Russia, because it is not an ICC member.