Espreso. Global

Ukrainian man seeks justice in Argentina after being tortured by Russians

16 April, 2024 Tuesday
13:21

Ukraine’s citizen who claims to be tortured by Russian forces has filed a court case in Argentina, an extraordinary attempt to seek responsibility for suspected war crimes at a time when Kyiv prosecutors are swamped

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Reuters writes about this.

The man accuses one named person, two identified by their call signs or military insignia, and others who are unnamed of using electrocution and unlawful imprisonment as forms of torture in mid to late 2022, the complaint seen by Reuters shows.

The claimant asked Reuters not to identify him because his family is still in Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine. He filed the complaint with the Federal Court in Buenos Aires on Monday against the individuals he claims tortured him, the staff of the detention center in southern Ukraine where he states he was held, and his supervisor at work who he blames enabled the abuse.

"I was detained at work. Then they tortured me. They used electric shocks," he told Reuters in an interview in a Buenos Aires apartment ahead of the filing.

"It was incredibly painful, so I lost consciousness. I was lucky to survive. Many people are still there."

The man's legal team and representatives of the Ukraine-based non-governmental organization The Reckoning Project, who commonly filed the lawsuit, showed the almost 70-page court complaint to Reuters. It contains alleged testimonies from other captives in the same detention facility that bolster the accusations, as well as conclusions from UN experts on comparable torture methods other locations, including the one in question.

The complaint alleges that electric cables were attached to the man's ear and finger to pass a shock through his body. He and others were held in cells 10 meters (32 ft) squared, with 12-20 people per cell.

Ibrahim Olabi, chief legal counsel on the case, said the man had been questioned and tortured over some 20 days. He was eventually released without charge and managed to flee to a non-occupied territory of Ukraine, Olabi said.

“The man's legal team asked that details in the filing that could identify the man, the exact location and timing of the alleged events, and the identity of the alleged perpetrators be withheld, citing concerns for the man's security and the integrity of the proceedings. The Argentine court now has to decide if it will accept the complaint, which potentially could take months. Until that time, the filing is not made public,” the report states.

Reuters notes that if Argentinian prosecutors accept the complaint it will be the first case looking at alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine filed outside of Europe and the United States.

"Today's filing is an important historic step. We will do everything in our capacity to assist the Argentine judiciary in their pursuit of truth and justice," said Yuriy Belousov, head of the war crimes unit in Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office.

He said that the use of so-called universal jurisdiction is crucial for Ukraine considering the large number of cases involving probable war crimes, which have presented "an unprecedented challenge to our justice system." According to Belousov, Ukrainian prosecutors have registered more than 126,000 war crimes proceedings since Russia's invasion in February 2022.

Argentina became a global leader in universal jurisdiction following the historic trials of the leaders of its previous military dictatorship in the 1980s and the early 2000s.

With this approach, prosecutors can bring war crimes and crimes against humanity cases in other countries, even if the victims and perpetrators have no connection to Argentina.

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