- In the first war crimes trial last month, a Russian soldier pleaded guilty to killing a civilian.
- “There is no hiding place for war criminals,” Garland said.
- Garland announced the formation of a War Crimes Accountability Team within the Justice Department.
Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced visit to Ukraine Tuesday for a meeting with Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova to discuss the ongoing effort to identify and apprehend suspected war criminals.
Garland, who entered the country from the Polish border, reaffirmed continued US assistance and announced the formation of a War Crimes Accountability Team within the Justice Department to provide legal counsel and expertise in evidence collection and forensics.
The attorney general said the special unit would be led by Eli Rosenbaum, who previously directed the department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI), primarily responsible for identifying, denaturalizing, and deporting Nazi war criminals. The US prosecutor will also be assigned to advise Ukrainian officials fighting kleptocracy, corruption and money laundering.
“There is no hiding place for war criminals,” Garland said. “Working alongside our domestic and international partners, the Justice Department will be relentless in our efforts to hold accountable every person complicit in the commission of war crimes, torture, and other serious violations during the unprovoked conflict in Ukraine.”
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Earlier this year, the attorney general pledged US support for an international campaign to hold war criminals accountable for atrocities being documented by Ukrainian authorities.
Venediktova has said that her office is documenting and cataloging evidence of suspected deliberate bombing of civilian buildings, hospitals and other infrastructure by Russian pilots, as well as mass graves, reports of civilians shot at close range with their hands bound, bodies showing signs of torture and brutal accounts of rape and other forms of sexual violence.
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In the first war crimes trial last month, a Russian soldier pleaded guilty to fatally shooting an unarmed civilian in the northeastern Sumy region four days after the invasion began.
Vadim Shishimarin, 21, was convicted in the fatal attack on a 62-year-old Ukrainian man. Shishimarin was among a group of Russian troops who fled Ukrainian forces on Feb. 28, prosecutors say.
Garland’s meeting came in advance of previously scheduled meeting this week in Paris with European Union justice ministers.
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