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Victims of Wagner group in Syria ready to give Vladimir Putin hell after reports of Russian war crimes in Ukraine

BILLIONhe showed the video Russian mercenaries laughed and screamed as they slammed a sledgehammer into a Syrian man’s bloody hands and feet, kicked him as he writhed on the ground, screaming in pain. In another clip, the commandos torture their prey with the macabre conclusion: They decapitate him with knives and fly and burn his body.

Mercenaries from Wagner, a private Russian military contractor with ties to the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Main Intelligence Service (GRU), accused of the murder of Muhammad Taha Ismail Al-Abdullah, also known as “Hamdi Bouta“In 2017, sending his family down a long and difficult legal road in the hope that one day someone will be held accountable for the unfathomable violence inflicted on the man whom they love.

The International Criminal Court (ICC)’s announcement last week that it would open an investigation into possible war crimes committed during the Moscow’s Most Recent Invasion of Ukraine Many hope that the Russian military, government officials and Vladimir Putin himself will be held accountable for the death and devastation that is currently pouring down from Russian planes and artillery over Ukrainian cities.

“Opening this investigation at the ICC level is also important because we know that the ICC will be the only body that can prosecute or consider prosecuting Putin,” said Clémence Bectarte, the lawyer representing the Bouta family on behalf of the Bouta family. for the International Federation for Humans. Rights (FIDH), told The Daily Beast.

Among those expecting possible justice for Russia’s alleged war crimes during the recent invasion are a host of families and lawyers who have been waiting years for a chance to confront them. with men they say are responsible for crimes against their loved ones and clients. . Family members of those killed by Russian air defenses – which shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) in 2014 – and Russian mercenaries in Syria, say they hope for wars Their own protracted legal system could one day set a precedent to help Ukrainian plaintiffs get justice in court. They also hope that the ICC’s recently published investigation can help resolve their cases.

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A pro-Russian separatist stands at the site of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region July 19, 2014.

Maxim Zmeyev / Reuters

“There are other spaces that I will definitely open up in the coming days and weeks given the Western pressure and willingness to focus on the responsible side of what’s going on,” Becarte told The Daily Beast. . “Our hope is that more avenues for justice will be opened up for the current Ukrainian victims and hopefully also to shed light on and hold accountable for the crimes committed by the Russian state and military. caused in Chechnya and Syria.

The path to Russia’s responsibility in Ukraine after the invasion is now much clearer than the options available to those seeking to prosecute Russian war crimes in places like Syria.

Ukraine is not a party to the Rome Statute, the international treaty that establishes and administers the International Criminal Court (ICC). But after the Russian invasion in 2014, the Ukrainian government announced that it would accept the ICC’s jurisdiction, giving alleged war crime victims a more direct venue for international accountability. .

Instead, the Bouta family’s lawyers had to take a more coherent path toward accountability through the Russian courts. Becarte, Darwish, Ilya Novikov and Piotr Zaikyn filed a criminal case with the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation after the newspaper Novaya Gazeta announced an investigation in 2019 that identified a former Russian policeman, Stanislav Dychko, as a Wagner mercenary who filmed torture and murder.

As the lawyers fear, Russia’s investigative commission has so far refused to take up the case, and efforts to declare it did not act illegal under Russian law have also been futile.

The Bouta family’s lawyers hope that they can eventually use Russia’s actions to bring the case to the European Court of Human Rights, which has jurisdiction over Russia, and not only seek justice for the Bouta’s family but also sets a possibly useful precedent for the Ukrainians now facing a new wave of attacks from Wagner mercenaries.

“What is really important in this European Court of Human Rights case is that we will try to get the court to establish a link between the Wagner group and the Russian state,” said Bectarte.

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Russian forces are considered to be Syrians displaced from Daraa province returning to their homeland in Bosra, southwestern Syria, on July 11, 2018.

Mohamad Yusuf / AFP via Getty

Wagner, a nominally private military contractor, has operated as an arm of the Russian military and a private corporation and has periodically fought for the Russian government since the first invasion in 2014. European intelligence officials said New York Times that the Russian military had recently sent hundreds of Wagner soldiers into Ukraine since the most recent attack, raising concerns that the company, known for a series of human rights abuses across the Middle East and Africawill be unleashed on Ukrainian civilians.

As the family’s attorneys try to handle their case, they are also working with Ukrainians to share their experiences in bringing cases against Russian forces.

“We are in contact with our Ukrainian colleagues and we are trying to push them to collect evidence, data and document all these crimes,” said Mazen Darwish, a lawyer for the International Federation of Human Rights. (FIDH), representing the Buta family, told The Daily Beast. “We strive to share our experience with documents and authentication and how we can use them as legal evidence.”

But even as Ukraine waits for international courts like the ICC to bring cases against Russia amid its current invasion, victims of previous attacks on civilians are still waiting for justice.

Piet Ploeg is the president of the MH17 Disaster Foundation, which represents the families of 298 civilians who died when a Russian Buk missile system shot down a commercial airliner in 2014 after mistaking it for a plane. Ukrainian military aircraft. Ploeg lost his brother Alex, sister-in-law Edith and nephew Robert in an attack that Russia has never acknowledged.

He told The Daily Beast that the process of asking an independent court for a final ruling can take a long time.

“My parents passed away two years ago. They are old and they have lost their children. They didn’t live to see it happen,” he said. “Many relatives of MH17 have died over the past eight years. It is very sad for them that they have not received any justice.”

In the case of the MH17 families, the Joint Investigative Team – a task force made up of investigators from several countries – helped prosecutors at The Hague District Court, Netherlands, bring a case against three Russian nationals and one Ukrainian for their role in the attack. The court is expected to issue a ruling later this year.

Ploeg said he and other families are hoping that one day the Ukrainians can hold Russian officials accountable for similar crimes on Ukrainian territory.

“We are fortunate to have independent courts and as far as I can see all of our immediate relatives have absolute faith in the justice system here,” Ploeg said. “For Ukrainians, they need the support of the whole world community.”

“It’s very important for them to have faith that justice will be done at some point,” added Ploeg. “War criminals and criminals can’t get away with it.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/wagner-group-victims-in-syria-ready-to-give-vladimir-putin-hell-after-reports-of-russian-war-crimes-in-ukraine?source=articles&via=rss Victims of Wagner group in Syria ready to give Vladimir Putin hell after reports of Russian war crimes in Ukraine

Russell Falcon

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