ICC prosecutor ends Georgia, Central African Republic probes

Dec 15, 2022, 3:41 PM | Updated: Dec 16, 2022, 5:47 am

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced Friday that he is closing investigations in Georgia and the Central African Republic, the first time the prosecution office has wrapped up probes in the court’s 20-year history.

The closures come as the court looks into allegations of atrocities around the world, including a major investigation into the ongoing war in Ukraine that is stretching its resources. The court, including its prosecution office, had a budget for 2022 of 154.8 million euros ($164.5 million).

“Taking such decisions are an essential part of articulating and implementing an effective prosecutorial strategy,” Prosecutor Karim Khan said in a statement.

“Given the scale of criminality addressed by the ICC, it is critical that I exercise the discretion afforded to me under the Rome Statute to effectively manage the discharge of my mandate as Prosecutor,” he added, referring to the treaty that founded the court.

The ICC in 2016 opened an investigation into the 2008 Russia-Georgia war that killed hundreds and displaced thousands more. Russia invaded Georgia after violence broke out between separatist groups and Georgian forces.

In June, the court issued arrest warrants for three men — Lt.-Gen. Mikhail Mindzaev, Gamlet Guchmazov and David Sanakoev — who served in the government of the Russian-backed self-declared republic of South Ossetia. None of the suspects has been arrested.

The court’s prosecution office opened its first probe in Central African Republic in 2007 and started a second investigation seven years later. Three suspects are currently on trial at the court’s headquarters in The Hague and a fourth is in custody. One more suspect remains at large.

Khan said that beyond those cases, “my office will not pursue new lines of inquiry into the alleged criminal responsibility of other persons or for other conduct” in Central African Republic.

Khan, who took over as the court’s chief prosecutor last year, said he has pledged not to “overpromise and underdeliver” for survivors and victims of crimes under the court’s jurisdiction.

“To achieve meaningful results, we must be robust in our analysis of how resources can be most effectively deployed to deliver the greatest impact for those affected by crimes falling within our jurisdiction globally,” he said.

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ICC prosecutor ends Georgia, Central African Republic probes