Ex-German officials file war crimes complaint against Russia | Military

BERLIN (AP) — Two former German government ministers have filed a criminal complaint with federal prosecutors seeking a war crimes investigation against Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, regarding the conflict in Ukraine.

Former Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and former Interior Minister Gerhart Baum said Thursday they want to use German laws allowing the prosecution of serious crimes committed abroad to bring to justice those they consider as responsible for the atrocities in Ukraine.

Germany’s application of the “universal jurisdiction” rule led to the first conviction of a senior Syrian official for crimes against humanity earlier this year.

Lawyer Nikolaos Gazeas, who drafted the 140-page criminal complaint on their behalf, said it not only targets President Putin’s Russian leaders and the 32 members of his security council, but also “a whole range of members of the Russian army”.

The crimes detailed in the complaint range from the attack on a nuclear power plant to the bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol, he said.

Gazeas added that federal prosecutors could also use information obtained by intelligence agencies to decide whether or not to open a case.

He specifically cited a report published Thursday by the weekly Der Spiegel that the German foreign intelligence agency had intercepted radio messages between Russian soldiers discussing the killings of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

While prosecutors at the International Criminal Court have also launched an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine, Gazeas said parallel investigations in multiple jurisdictions make sense and could be mutually reinforcing.

“The law is a weapon in this situation,” Baum said, “and we want to use it.”

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