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Reuters: Man tortured by Russian troops in southern Ukraine seeks justice in Argentina

If accepted by an Argentine court, the complaint could mark the first case of alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine filed outside of Europe and the US.
Russian troops in Ukraine, February 2022. Photo:
Russian troops in Ukraine, in 2022. Photo:
Reuters: Man tortured by Russian troops in southern Ukraine seeks justice in Argentina

A Ukrainian man who alleges he was tortured by Russian troops has filed a legal complaint halfway around the world in Argentina, Reuters has reported.

Last year, a report by the UN Commission of Inquiry confirmed that Russia’s torture of civilians and soldiers in areas under its control was systematic. Meanwhile, Moscow has repeatedly denied committing war crimes in Ukraine and has claimed previous International Criminal Court war crimes arrest warrants a part of a biased Western campaign to discredit the country.

In the filing, reported for the first time, the man accuses several individuals, who are unnamed, of using electrocution and unlawful imprisonment as forms of torture in mid to late 2022.

The man submitted the complaint with the Federal Court in Buenos Aires against the people who he says tortured him, the officials who ran the detention center in southern Ukraine where he was held, as well as his workplace superior, whom he says facilitated the abuse.

“I was detained at work. Then they tortured me. They used electric shocks. It was incredibly painful, so I lost consciousness. I was lucky to survive. Many people are still there,” he recalled.

The complaint says electric cables were attached to the man’s ear and finger to pass a shock through his body while being in a detention center with cells 10 meters squared, with 12-20 people in each cell.

The nearly 70-page legal complaint submitted by the man’s legal team and members of Ukraine-based NGO The Reckoning Project, who jointly filed the case, includes testimony from other victims of the unnamed individuals.

Ibrahim Olabi, chief legal counsel on the case, said the man had been questioned and tortured over some 20 days. After he was eventually released without charge, he fled to Ukraine-controlled territory.

The Argentine court must now determine whether to accept the complaint, a process that could take months. During this period, the filing remains confidential and is not made public.

If it accepts the complaint, it will become the first case of alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine filed outside of Europe and the US.

“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 Yuri Belousov, head of the war crimes unit in Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office.

He emphasized that using universal jurisdiction is essential for Ukraine, especially considering the significant number of cases involving alleged war crimes, which posed an “unprecedented challenge” for its justice system.

According to Belousov, Ukraine prosecutors have documented over 126,000 cases of war crimes since the Russian invasion in February 2022.

After landmark trials of its former military dictatorship leaders in the 1980s and early 2000s, Argentina established itself as a global leader in universal jurisdiction. This principle could allow prosecutors to pursue cases for war crimes and crimes against humanity in other countries, regardless of whether the victims or criminals have any connection to Argentina.

Argentina has previously decided on cases from Spain, Yemen, and Myanmar. Argentine prosecutors have filed arrest warrants, although they have little recourse if the local jurisdictions decline to cooperate.


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