The Hague-Based International Criminal Court officially issued arrest warrants today for three de facto South Ossetian officials believed to bear responsibility for war crimes committed during the 2008 August War in Georgia.
These officials are Lt.-Gen. Mikhail Mindzaev, de facto interior minister in 2005-2008; Hamlet Guchmazov, Head of the Preliminary Detention facility of the de facto interior ministry at the time of events; and David Sanakoev, de facto presidential representative for human rights in S. Ossetia.
The ICC prosecutor Karim Khan had applied for the three arrest warrants in March 2022 with the three men bearing criminal responsibility for unlawful confinement, torture, inhumane treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, hostage taking, and unlawful transfer.
The Court has directed the ICC Registrar, Peter Lewis, to compile a request for cooperation with relevant States or international organizations for executing the arrest and surrender of the suspects.
Background on ICC Investigation
The ICC authorized its prosecutor to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the lead-up to, during, and after the August 2008 war in Georgia.
ICC Prosecutor requested the opening of the investigation in October 2015 and identified the following crimes, which she “reasonably believes” fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC:
- “Killings, forcible displacements and persecution of ethnic Georgian civilians, and destruction and pillaging of their property, by South Ossetian forces (with possible participation by Russian forces)”;
- “Intentionally directing attacks against Georgian peacekeepers by South Ossetian forces, and against Russian peacekeepers by Georgian forces.”
Georgia welcomed the ICC’s decision to open the investigation; Russia criticized it. Georgia, as a state party to the Rome Statute through which the ICC was established, was obligated to fully cooperate with ICC – something that does not apply to Russia, because it is not an ICC member.