German prosecutors have received evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine in three cases filed by the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ) on Oct. 26.
The CFJ, an organization devoted to protecting human rights and gathering evidence of human rights abuses, submitted detailed dossiers against the alleged perpetrators to federal prosecutors in Germany. The organization is representing 16 survivors and families of victims across the three cases.
One case was filed jointly with the Ukrainian NGO Truth Hounds.
“International commitment around accountability for crimes committed in Ukraine has been unprecedented since the beginning of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine,” said Anya Neistat, legal director of the Docket, CFJ's initiative to gather evidence of international war crimes.
“But it is now the time to see words turn into real action — and we are counting on German prosecutors to lead the way.”
The dossiers accuse three Russian commanders of committing war crimes, including during an indiscriminate missile attack on a resort in Odesa Oblast in the summer of 2022 that killed 22 civilians, the execution of four men in Kharkiv oblast from March to September 2022, and multiple executions, acts of torture, and sexual violence committed in Kyiv Oblast in March 2022.
The cases were filed under the legal principle of universal jurisdiction, which stipulates that for certain serious crimes, countries have a duty to prosecute perpetrators of crimes that extend beyond the borders of the country where the acts were committed.
“I am now confident that the cases are strong, and that they will offer German courts a real chance to deliver justice to the survivors," Neistat said.
Germany has compiled extensive evidence of Russian war crimes, and Germany's Federal Prosecutor’s Office has previously launched an investigation into the alleged shooting of civilians, including a German citizen, by Russian troops at the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
CFJ prosecutors also shared the dossiers with the International Criminal Court (ICC) so that the evidence can be included in their ongoing investigation. The ICC has previously issued arrest warrants for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and Russian official Maria Lvova-Belova over the unlawful deportation of children from occupied areas of Ukraine.
A report from the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office in August 2023 stated that there have been nearly 100,000 Russian war crimes committed in Ukraine.