EU and Kyiv decide on Moscow ‘crime of aggression’ investigation bureau
The European Union (EU) and Ukraine agreed on Friday on the establishment in The Hague of an investigation office, a sort of interim prosecutor’s office, intended to coordinate the collection of evidence from the “crime of aggression” of Russia. Its purpose is “to coordinate the investigation of the crime of aggression against Ukraine, to preserve and store evidence for future trials”, they said in a joint statement after a joint summit in kyiv. This structure is envisaged as an intermediate step before the establishment of a special tribunal to judge the highest Russian officials, a request from kyiv.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction only over war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine, not over “crime of aggression” of Russia, because Moscow and kyiv are not signatories of the Treaty of Rome establishing this jurisdiction. The crime of aggression is attributable to the highest political and military leaders of a country.
The EU supports the creation of a competent jurisdiction for this type of crime, but its exact form raises complex legal questions. The European Commission has submitted two options: a special international court, based on a multilateral treaty, or a hybrid court, governed by Ukrainian law but comprising international judges. Ukraine would like a special tribunal capable of trying Vladimir Putin and based on a resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations. But some countries, such as Germany, doubt that the establishment of such a court will garner sufficient support at the UN and favor the creation of a hybrid court.
According to the Commission, this office will be located in The Hague, at the headquarters of Eurojust, the EU agency for judicial cooperation in criminal matters. It will be integrated into a “joint investigation team”already made up of six EU countries (Lithuania, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Romania) and Ukraine and in which the ICC prosecutor’s office also participates.