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Ukrainian survivor of Russian torture files legal complaint in Argentina

by Elsa Court April 16, 2024 1:53 PM 3 min read
A Ukrainian man, who remains anonymous for security reasons, files a criminal complaint to the Federal Court in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 15, 2024. (The Reckoning Project / Anna Tsyhyma)
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A Ukrainian man has filed a criminal complaint to Argentina's Federal Judiciary against the Russian occupying forces who tortured him, The Reckoning Project (TRP), an international NGO that works to bring war crime cases to court, announced on April 16.

Argentina's constitution allows for trials on "international crimes, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, irrespective of where they took place," on the basis of universal jurisdiction, TRP said in a press release.

The man, who is identified as Mr M for security reasons, filed the torture complaint on April 15 in Buenos Aires.

Though this case is the first time a Ukrainian torture complaint has been filed in Argentina, Mr M said that he is "one of so many cases."

As of March 2024, Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office collected pretrial information on over 128,000 victims of war crimes.

Mr M noted that he has brought Ukraine's "pain and suffering to the international scene, to a country that is not unfamiliar with that type of pain and suffering."

Argentina was ruled by a military junta that led a campaign of terror against left-wing opponents and suspected dissidents between 1976 and 1983, known as the "Dirty War."

Destroy, in Whole or in Part

As many as 30,000 people were killed by the authorities in this period, thousands of whom went missing after being detained.

TRP noted that in recent years, "Argentina has taken a leading role in the fight against impunity both domestically and internationally, including by opening investigations under the principle of universal jurisdiction arising from different country contexts."

Nataliya Gumenyuk, a Ukrainian journalist and CEO of the Public Interest Journalism Lab, accompanied the surivor to Argentina for the filing of the complaint.

"For us Ukrainians, the Argentinian experience of trials is both a call for international support in upholding the rule of law and a hope that justice is possible," Gumenyuk said.

According to Reuters, which has seen the complaint, Russian forces held Mr M in a detention center in Ukraine's occupied south.

"The man accuses one named person, two identified by their call signs or military insignia, and others who are unnamed of using electrocution and unlawful imprisonment as forms of torture in mid to late 2022," Reuters said.

The court in Argentina will now decide if it will accept the complaint, a process that could take months, Reuters said.

Inside a prison where Russia tortured Ukrainian POWs. Investigation by the Kyiv Independent
Among the Russian camps for Ukrainian prisoners of war, the most notorious one is Olenivka, in Russian-occupied Donetsk Oblast. This prison-turned-camp became infamous due to reports of abuse and torture inflicted upon its prisoners. Who runs this prison?
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