EU Announces Date of Inquiry into Aggression against Ukraine

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The International Centre for the Investigation of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine will start collecting evidence for future trials in July. The search for jurisdiction for the special tribunal continues, the EU has said. The International Centre in The Hague to investigate the crime of aggression against Ukraine will start its work in July, the EU commissioner has said. This was announced by European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders at a joint press conference with Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Andriy Kostin in Brussels on Friday, 17 February. “The center will already be fully operational in July this year,” Reynders promised. The center will be attached to a joint investigation team set up by six European Union member states and Ukraine and will also work closely with the International Criminal Court, the commissioner said. “It is necessary to collect and preserve evidence for future trials,” Reynders said. He said he had spoken to Kostin about the next steps in the investigation into the crime of aggression and the special tribunal. “It is important to find jurisdiction for it,” the commissioner stressed, adding that step by step the process is ongoing. Kostin: “The countries that have condemned the Russian aggression should take the next step.” For his part, Kostin recalled that there was no effective legal mechanism for punishing those responsible for the crime of aggression now. In his opinion, the countries which condemned the Russian aggression in Ukraine at the UN should take the next step so that such a mechanism can be created. As for other war crimes, 67,000 cases have already been documented, Kostin said. "99 per cent will be investigated and prosecuted in Ukraine," he said, adding that 25 convictions had already been handed down, but additional legal mechanisms were needed to achieve full justice. He cited both a special tribunal and the International Criminal Court, which will prosecute the crime of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity likely committed during the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Reynders: “It is important to know that no perpetrator will escape responsibilit.” “All the perpetrators of these crimes must be assured that for the rest of their lives they risk being brought before a tribunal,” Reynders said. “It is very important for us to fight impunity and to make sure that no perpetrator escapes responsibility.” He also said the EU has already frozen €21.5bn in assets of Russian oligarchs and entities on the sanctions list. Russia should pay for Ukraine’s recovery and compensate for the damage, the EU commissioner said, recalling that work on the register of damage to Ukraine was ongoing. According to Andrey Kostin, the fairest way to compensate for the crimes committed by Russia is to use Russia’s sovereign assets, as it was the Russian state that committed these offences. We are talking about the 300bn assets of the Russian Central Bank frozen not only in the EU but also in the G7 countries. There are no legal mechanisms to confiscate these assets because they are subject to sovereign immunity, but the EU proposes to set up a fund to manage these assets and transfer the interest earned to Ukraine’s reconstruction.