Germany has collected “hundreds” of pieces of evidence of war crimes in Ukraine, German Public Prosecutor General Peter Frank told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday. In the interview, the prosecutor called for an international mechanism to bring war criminals to justice.
“At the moment, we are concentrating on Bucha and attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine,” Frank told the German weekly newspaper. He added that most of the evidence of war crimes was coming from interviews with Ukrainian refugees.
The aim of his work, the lawyer says, is to “prepare for a possible trail in the near future- whether in Germany or with one of our international partners or via an international court.”
Frank says that his investigation first began in March 2022, shortly after the start of Russia’s invasion. “We are not investigating specific people, rather we are gathering information and evidence,” he said.
The prosecutor acknowledges that, in order to prosecute war crimes suspects in Germany, the suspects would need to be physically within the country.
In January, Germany Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that she was in favour of the creation of a special court to prosecute Russian leaders for their role in orchestrating the invasion of Ukraine, possibly using Ukrainian law. This court would be based abroad with international judges presiding, the foreign minister said.
“Who do we want to bring to justice? The leaders –those who took the decision to go to war– and those at the highest level of the army apply this decision,” Frank said.
In the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, hundreds of bodies of civilians were discovered after the Russian army was driven out of the territory after a failed offensive in March 2022. The massacre sparked a massive wave of accusation of war crimes aimed at Moscow, which it has always denied.
The prosecutor’s office relies on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which makes it possible to prosecute the most serious crimes regardless of where they were committed, such as to try Syrians abroad for acts committed during the civil war.
Based on that same principle, a group of people from Myanmar filed a lawsuit last month in Germany against the military junta, accusing it of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.