France sends police and forensic experts to Ukraine to capture evidence of Russian war crimes

Team includes two forensic doctors and 15 gendarmes, which is a unit of the French army

Sravasti Dasgupta
Tuesday 12 April 2022 07:57 BST

Ukraine says it has found more than 1,200 bodies in Kyiv region

France has sent a unit of police officials and forensic experts to Ukraine to investigate potential war crimes in the country by invading Russian forces.

On Monday, the team of police officials and forensic doctors arrived in Ukraine.

In a statement on Twitter Etienne de Poncins, France’s ambassador to Ukraine said: “Proud to welcome to Lviv the detachment of technical and scientific gendarmes who came to assist their comrades in investigations of war crimes committed near Kyiv.”

“France is the first to provide such help. They will start work tomorrow.”

The French interior and justice ministry said the team had been sent to “prevent the impunity of acts constituting war crimes” following the killing of civilians around Kyiv region.

The French ministries said the experts will help in “identification and collection of evidence” and provide “concrete support” to Ukrainian and international authorities to probe the killings, reported the Times of Malta.

“In agreement with the Ukrainian authorities, it may also contribute to the International Criminal Court investigation,” the ministries said.

The unit has been sent a day after Ukraine’s prosecutor Iryna Venediktova said that over 1,200 bodies have been found in the Kyiv region alone.

The prosecutor described Russian president Vladimir Putin as the “main war criminal of 21st century” as she shared the figures of bodies recovered from the Kyiv region, many areas of which were under the Russian control for weeks before Moscow’s retreat.

“We have actually now, only for this morning, 1,222 dead people only in Kyiv region,” she was quoted as saying to Sky News on Sunday.

“Of course what we see on the ground, in all regions of Ukraine is war crimes, crime against humanity,” she added.

The ministries said that the team that has been sent to Ukraine includes “two forensic doctors and about 15 gendarmes from the National Gendarmerie Criminal Research Institute (IRCGN), experts in crime scene and victim identification”.

The officers are skilled in “DNA sampling and processing fingerprints” and will “set up a chain of examination and identification of bodies.”

Russia's defence ministry dismissed the French team and said that it could not "count on an impartial investigation".

France’s national prosecutors can probe war crimes outside its borders if they target French nationals or if they are committed by a French national or resident, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Last week Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said he created a special mechanism to investigate Russian “crimes” in Ukraine.

“I decided to create a special mechanism of justice in Ukraine to investigate and prosecute every crime of the occupiers in our country,” he said in a video address on 4 April.

He added that this will include “national and international experts, investigators, prosecutors and judges”.

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