Tribune. The Ukrainian Minister of Defense, Oleksii Reznikov, proclaimed it on April 3: “The whole world must know it: during this century, humanity will live through the new Nuremberg trials. They will take place in The Hague, Kharkiv, Boutcha or Irpin. The next day, President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Russian people thus: “The time will come when every Russian will learn the whole truth about who among his fellow citizens has killed.” Who gave orders. Who turned a blind eye to the murders (…) We are now in 2022. And we have many more tools than those who pursued the Nazis after the Second World War. »
Since the start of the Russian-led war of aggression against Ukraine, the ability of the Ukrainian leadership to immediately prepare, at the national level, for the prosecution of crimes committed against the civilian population has been particularly remarkable, as has that the International Criminal Court (ICC) conduct an investigation. Trials held at the scene of the crimes could indeed be joined by those coming under a supranational authority, as was the case in 1945. And President Zelensky rightly points out that the means of investigation now available to investigators are more numerous than at the end of the Second World War.
Facing up to atrocities
Among these sources of information, the image plays an essential role. While the Nazis had prevented the production, and even more the distribution, of images of the crimes committed in the East and the destruction of the Jews of Europe, one of the very first decisions of the American Attorney General, a few days after the opening of the Nuremberg trials, had been to place the Nazi leaders in front of the images of the concentration camps taken by the Allies. The projection of images, qualified as evidence by the Court, had three functions: to attest to the crimes committed by making them credible; compel the defendants to visually confront their atrocities; cross-reference the images with other documents and testimonies, by submitting them to the adversarial debate specific to the judicial instance.
Read also the editorial of Le Monde: In Mali as in Ukraine, those responsible for war crimes must be tried
Today, in Kharkiv as in The Hague, the first investigations carry out a work of documentation including the gathering of traces, written reports, testimonies and images. For its part, the Russian counter-propaganda, if it was able to deploy at ease in the official media and on certain social networks under its influence, was so crude and cynical that its significance is greatly limited.
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