War crimes in Ukraine: a unit of investigators created in France
A unit of investigators has been set up within the office responsible for crimes against humanity, theOCLCH, in order to centralize files concerning suspicions of war crimes perpetrated in Ukraine, General Jean-Philippe Reiland, head of the office, explained to Agence France-Presse on Tuesday. This structure, made up of around ten investigators, is currently in charge of the seven cases opened in France for acts committed in Ukraine which involve French nationals. Five of these investigations have been opened since the beginning of the Russian invasion and two relate to older facts in Donbass.
Constituted shortly after the outbreak of the Russian offensive, the OCLCH also deals with handbooks deposited by Ukrainian refugees in police stations or gendarmerie brigades, added General Reiland. Questionnaires in several languages (Ukrainian, Russian, English, French) were distributed to police stations and gendarmeries to help complainants. Refugee aid associations have also been sensitized to encourage them to come and testify. “The objective is to inform the investigations of the International Criminal Court and those of the Ukrainians, which is done in the same way in Europe”, continued the general.
The head of the OCLCH accompanied from September 12 to 16 in the kyiv region the French anti-terrorist prosecutor, Jean-François Ricard. They attended the investigations of the Ukrainian judicial authorities requested by the French justice to advance its investigations. Among the investigations opened for possible war crimes against French people are those concerning Pierre Zakrzewski, a Franco-Irish cameraman for Fox News who was killed on March 14 in Horenka, northwest of the Ukrainian capital, after the attack on his vehicle, and Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, journalist for BFM-TV, killed on May 30 while following a humanitarian mission in the east of the country.
On the spot, for example, the French delegation had access to the carcass of Pierre Zakrzewski’s car, was able to take samples and model it in 3D. Then experts will determine the nature of the projectile and where the shot came from. On the other hand, it was not possible for the delegation to go further east, where the vehicle in which the BFM-TV journalist was killed is located. “But, underlined the general, the Ukrainian judicial and police authorities have the means to do so and are very aware of requests for mutual assistance. “The cooperation of the Ukrainian judicial and police authorities has been total”, greeted prosecutor Ricard on Friday.