An International Criminal Court prosecutor has started a preliminary inquiry into crimes committed before and during the removal of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych from office.
"The Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, has decided to open a preliminary examination into the situation in Ukraine in order to establish whether the Rome Statute criteria for opening an investigation are met," says the court press release posted on Friday. Earlier, the ICC received a request from the Ukrainian government to investigate the events that occurred on Independence Square, widely known as the Maidan, in the center of Kyiv from November 21, 2013 to February 22, 2014. "The Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Herman von Hebel, received a declaration lodged by Ukraine accepting the ICC's jurisdiction with respect to alleged crimes committed in its territory from November 21, 2013 to February 22, 2014," the court said in a press release. The declaration was lodged under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, which enables a state not party to the statute to accept the exercise of jurisdiction of the court. At the same time, the acceptance of the ICC's jurisdiction does not automatically trigger an investigation. It is for the ICC Prosecutor to decide whether or not to request the judges' authorization to open an investigation, if the Prosecutor considers that the information available to her establishes the existence of a reasonable basis to open an investigation. If an investigation is opened, it will also be for the ICC Prosecutor to decide, on the basis of the evidence collected, whether to ask the ICC judges to issue arrest warrants or summonses to appear for persons charged with the commission of crimes falling under the ICC's jurisdiction. The ICC is an independent, permanent court that tries individuals accused of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. The ICC is based on a treaty, the Rome Statute, joined by 122 countries. Ukraine signed the Rome Statute on January 20, 2000, but has not yet ratified it. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk said earlier that in signing the political chapters of the Association Agreement with the European Union, Ukraine also pledges to ratify the Rome Statute.