Poland's Zbigniew Ziobro and Britain's Tom Tugendhat held talks in Warsaw on Thursday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
The two ministers talked about “the collection of evidence for the crimes committed during the Russian aggression” and “the progress of the investigation initiated by Poland, with the participation of the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague,” among other issues, the Polish Ministry of Justice said in a statement.
Investigating Russian war crimes in Ukraine
Poland opened an investigation into Russia’s assault on Ukraine on February 28, 2022, with a focus on “swiftly securing evidence of the war crimes committed by the aggressor’s armed forces on the territory of Ukraine,” the PAP news agency reported.
In March last year, Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland launched a joint probe that was later joined by Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia, Romania, the EU’s agency for criminal-justice cooperation, Eurojust, and the ICC’s chief prosecutor Karim Khan, according to officials.
This investigation involves sharing evidence and information as well as coordinating steps taken by prosecutors in the participating countries, reporters were told.
“More than 1,400 witnesses have been interviewed so far, including Ukrainian soldiers hospitalised in Poland,” the Polish justice ministry said, adding that “prosecutors have collected evidence of multiple Russian crimes, including the killing of civilians in Bucha, among other locations, and the forced deportation of Ukrainians.”
'Attack on international order'
During Thursday’s meeting, Poland’s Ziobro told Tugendhat that “Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine is also an attack on the whole international order,” according to officials.
Ziobro also said: “How various countries respond is a test of their credibility and commitment to basic values, such as freedom and democracy. Poland has been steadfast in its support for Ukraine ever since the war started.”
Ziobro proposed that Poland and Britain “coordinate their positions in support of Ukraine’s plan to set up an international tribunal” to try those responsible for Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the crimes committed during the invasion.
The Polish justice minister said that Polish-British cooperation on the issue would make it easier to "attract new backers for the Ukrainian plan."
Tugendhat welcomed the proposal and expressed a willingness to join forces with Poland in supporting Ukraine’s plan, officials said.
The UK minister for security also thanked Poland for "the extraordinary help" offered to refugees from war-torn Ukraine, according to Poland’s justice ministry.
Tom Tugendhat (centre). Photo: gov.pl
In an earlier statement, the ministry said that Poland had called on allies and partners to discuss setting up a special tribunal to prosecute Russian crimes in Ukraine, the PAP news agency reported.
Calls for a special tribunal
On Wednesday, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Latvia's Egils Levits backed calls for a special international court to prosecute Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) last month demanded the setting up of a special international criminal tribunal to prosecute Russian and Belarusian political and military leaders over Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
Earlier in January, members of the European Parliament called for the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute Russia’s political and military leaders and their allies for crimes committed in Ukraine.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in November that the 27-nation European Union was seeking to set up a specialised court, backed by the United Nations, to investigate and prosecute possible war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine.
The foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in October called for the establishment of a special international tribunal to investigate Russia's "crime of aggression" against Ukraine.
The Hague-based International Criminal Court opened an investigation into suspected war crimes in Ukraine days after Russia invaded the country on February 24, 2022, according to officials.
Thursday was day 344 of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Source: PAP, dorzeczy.pl, gov.pl, wnp.pl