International Criminal Court opens preliminary examination of alleged Ukraine crimes

AMSTERDAM Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:42am EDT

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court opened a preliminary investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine in the period leading up to the fall of former president Viktor Yanukovich, the court said in a statement on Friday.

Ukraine is not a member of the world's permanent war crimes court, but has granted the ICC jurisdiction over any crimes that might have taken place on its territory from November 21 to February 22, when the parliament removed Yanukovich from his post.

The new government of Ukraine referred the case to the ICC, alleging that Yanukovich's troops killed more than 100 demonstrators in Kiev and other cities. The referral runs up to the day before Russia's annexation of Crimea, meaning the court would not be obliged to consider the possibility of crimes committed by Russian soldiers or officials.

Court prosecutors will use the preliminary investigation to decide if any of the alleged crimes are of sufficient gravity to warrant a full-blown investigation.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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