On the day of the Centerʼs opening, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Andriy Kostin, announced that prosecutors from six countries and the US special prosecutor are currently working at the ICPA. Other countries can also join the work of the Center. Has anyone joined yet?
The participants of the center are Ukraine and the other five member countries of the joint investigative team (JIT): Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland and Romania. The United States has delegated a special prosecutor for the crime of aggression, who will support the work of the center. Prosecutors are already working in The Hague.
The participation of other countries is also possible, but now the main task of the prosecutors is to establish the work of the center, assess the amount of available evidence and determine where exactly the support of other countries is needed. We closely cooperate with the International Criminal Court, there is an opportunity to involve representatives of the EU Consultative Mission in Ukraine, international experts.
And what does the work of the Center and prosecutors look like physically? Are they sitting in the same room studying the evidence? Does everyone do their own work and then put together the puzzle?
Four national prosecutors or investigators from each country work in the center, who are employees of their prosecutorʼs offices. They can work here permanently or on a rotational basis. This helps the Center to be more flexible in the investigation, because in this way the prosecutor has the opportunity to collect evidence in his own country.
The main idea of the Center is that it united prosecutors and representatives of investigative bodies of participating countries to investigate the crime of aggression against Ukraine. Participants coordinate a joint investigation strategy, can effectively exchange evidence, analyze it. Each country collects evidence according to its national law. But the Joint Investigation Team allows the exchange of evidence without additional procedures in the form of requests for international legal assistance. This greatly simplifies the process.
Do I understand correctly that there is an article on the crime of aggression in the criminal codes of the countries that are part of the Center ?
Except for Romania and the USA.
How can they investigate the crime of aggression then?
These countries are investigating war and other international crimes [committed by the Russians during the war against Ukraine]. The evidence they collect can be very important and relevant in the case of aggression against Ukraine.
What evidence are we talking about? For example, it can be a document found by the intelligence of some country?
Prosecutors who directly conduct the investigation can talk about the evidence. But it is too early to talk about it. If you look at the crime from a theoretical point of view, then of course you can use any evidence obtained in accordance with the law.
Is the US helping to obtain such evidence?
The fact that the USA delegated its representative is a very important step, which means that the USA is ready to facilitate the investigation of the case regarding the crime of aggression against Ukraine.
I clarify because recently the USA agreed to provide evidence to the International Criminal Court.
United States law, as amended, allows for the sharing of evidence, and this is very important. Every country that undertakes certain obligations can support the case against Russian criminals. But only the country itself determines what kind of evidence and in what volume it will transfer.
The US prosecutor is specially delegated to the International Center [because the US is not part of the Joint Investigation Team]. This is the peculiarity of the Center — it is not limited to the list of countries that are part of the Joint Investigative Team, and can involve other countries as well. Our toolkit allows to receive and exchange evidence also within the framework of international legal assistance. For example, both EU countries and other countries that have an agreement with Eurojust can submit evidence to the Evidence Database on major international crimes. Then analysts and prosecutors will analyze and evaluate them to determine whether they belong to war crimes or to the crime of aggression.
What is the role of Eurojust in the work of the center?
It provides structural support to both the Joint Investigation Team and the Center. We are talking, in particular, about premises, technical equipment, security, expert support.
In June of last year, the Eurojust regulations were supplemented, which allowed the creation of a database of evidence on international crimes, which we call CICED. This system allows to accumulate not just information or certain data, but what is already evidence. So we can see the full picture: who has what and where this evidence is accumulated, what are the gaps and what is missing to prove the nature of the crime. Prosecutors working together here can meet quickly and decide what evidence is still needed and what needs to be done to get it.
Am I correct in my understanding that the evidence of aggression is collected with regard to subjects — that is, political and military leaders?
Prosecutors have an investigation strategy — every prosecutor, when conducting an investigation, already sees what evidence he must collect, for whom, for which events.
When enough evidence is gathered, what happens next?
We are prosecutors, and our task here is to conduct a full and comprehensive investigation, build a case, collect evidence, verify it, make sure that it is correct and indisputable. At the same time, processes are taking place at the political level, the Core Group is working.
But you canʼt raise any suspicions. That is, you can collect all the evidence, and then just wait for the tribunal, which will analyze your evidence and make some legal decisions?
The main idea behind ICPA is that it is a very practical tool. All evidence gathered under the ICPA is admissible in any jurisdiction, both domestic and international.
Then the question about the role of the International Criminal Court. The Ukrainian Prosecutor General stated that the Center will exchange evidence with the ICC. But why, if the ICC cannot investigate Russian aggression?
The Rome Statute provides for the crime of aggression. Itʼs just that the jurisdiction of this court does not extend to our situation regarding the crime of aggression itself. At this point, we donʼt know where this case will go. It is very important to us to conduct investigations in accordance with the highest international standards. And that is why the experience of the ICC in conducting such large-scale investigations is very important. The ICC is also a member of the Joint Investigation Team. Among the evidence collected by the ICC may be evidence useful in the case of aggression.
The center has been operating since July. Can we talk about the first results of its work? Iʼm not asking to name some evidence or any information that could harm the investigation, but is there any progress in the investigation already?
I will not speculate on specific dates, because the work is ongoing. There is an understanding, there are certain set goals, there is a vision and a previously developed strategy.
Can we expect that when the prosecutors gather enough evidence, they will come out and tell it?
It is very important to inform the society. I am sure that at some point we will be able to hear about the results of the Centerʼs work.
Translated from Ukrainian by Anton Semyzhenko.