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War Crimes Court To Probe Russian, Georgian Violations In 2008 War

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said she would investigate both sides in a 2008 war between Russia and Georgia for war crimes, including the killing of peacekeepers and attacks on civilians.

Fatou Bensouda moved to open the investigation October 13 after signs that Georgia's inquiries into its own forces' alleged crimes had stalled. Her office said there was evidence that both Georgian and South Ossetian forces had attacked peacekeepers.

On the Russian side, prosecutors said there was evidence that up to 113 ethnic Georgian civilians had been killed and up to 18,500 uprooted from their homes as part of a "forcible displacement campaign" conducted by the authorities in South Ossetia, a mainly Russian-speaking province.

"The ethnic Georgian population in the conflict zone was reduced by at least 75 percent," the prosecutors said, adding that the crimes had been committed with "the possible participation of the Russian armed forces."

Bensouda said that pro-Russian South Ossetian separatist forces had carried out alleged crimes with "particular cruelty and on discriminatory grounds."

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

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