The Prosecutor General’s Office of Georgia and The Office of Prosecutor of the Russian Federation have been investigating crimes committed during 2008 armed conflict.
Investigation Conducted by the Law Enforcement Organs of Georgia
On August 9, 2008 investigation unit of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Georgia launched investigation into the facts of violence committed against the civilians during the military operations in the territory of Georgia in August of 2008, the crimes were punishable under the Article 407 (genocide) and Article 411 Part 1 and 2 (intentional violation of the norms of the international humanitarian law during armed conflict) of the Criminal Code of Georgia. On August 11, 2008 the Prosecutor’s Office launched investigation under the Article 413 – “a” of the Criminal Code of Georgia (other violation of the norms of the international humanitarian law - looting).
In 2009, the investigative part of the Prosecutor General’s Office was put in charge to investigate the abovementioned criminal cases in order to consolidate investigation of all alleged crimes committed during the 2008 August War under one investigation. The investigation over the genocide stopped due to lack of substantiation.
In the frame of the investigation, the investigative bodies conducted numerous investigative operations, namely they questioned up to 7 000 witnesses, examined about 30 sites of crimes including Gori and Kareli municipalities, conducted various expertise, obtained phone records, satellite photos and more.
In the frame of the investigation, part of the people injured during the August war received victim status or the status of victim’s assignee.
On March 17, 2015, the Ministry of Justice notified the OTP of the International Criminal Court that the investigation conducted on the national level could not progress because of limited access to the occupied territories and security problems in the adjacent territories. Consequently, the Ministry clarified that the domestic investigation was suspended for unidentified time until the security problems are eliminated.
Currently, the investigation formally continues. However, so far, the investigative bodies have not imposed responsibility on any concrete individual.
The investigation by the Russian investigative bodies
On August 8, 2008 the investigative committee of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation launched investigation over the murder of the Russian peacekeepers allegedly committed by the Georgian Armed Forces. The crime is punishable under the Article 105 of the Criminal Code of Russia. On August 9, 2008 the same committee launched investigation over the murder of civilians – residents of South Ossetia who held Russian citizenship – allegedly committed by the Georgian Armed Forces. On August 12, 2008 the investigative body launched another investigation over the genocide fact allegedly committed by the Georgian military forces, which is punishable under the Article 357 of the Criminal Code of Russia.
Later on, all abovementioned criminal cases were consolidated into one criminal case. In the frame of the investigation, various investigative activities were carried out, over 1000 witnesses were interrogated, the location of the peacekeeping battalion was obtained, as well as information about military armament, medical documentation and satellite photos, various expertizes were carried out.
According to the clarification of the investigative committee of the Russian Federation, in the frame of the ongoing investigation they also studied the complaints of about 600 citizens of Georgia, who complained about the crimes committed by the Russian soldiers. In order to examine the facts indicated in the complaints, the investigative bodies carried out some investigative activities, among them they questioned up to 2 000 Russian soldiers from 50 military units as well as the members of the South Ossetian armed forces. As a result, the Russian investigative committee could not obtain evidence, which could prove that the Russian soldiers had allegedly committed the abovementioned crimes.
The investigation over the alleged crimes committed by the Georgians Armed Forces against Russian Peacekeepers and citizens of Russia residing in South Ossetia still continues.