UK training Ukrainian judges for trials of Russians
A UK jurist previously involved in the trial of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is heading a British government program to train some 90 Ukrainian judges on how to conduct trials of Russian troops for alleged war crimes, Sky News has reported.
The first group of judges were given lessons at a “secret location in the region” last week, according to the outlet on Wedensday. The education program is part of a £2.5 million ($3 million) investment, the outlet said.
Victoria Prentis, who was appointed Attorney General in late October, gave a preview of the program in The Times earlier this month. She said her Ukrainian counterpart was facing “a horrifying catalogue of war crimes, with more than 43,000 cases recorded” and pledged her support in “navigating” them.
Speaking to Sky News about the initiative, she touted it as a form of deterrence to the Russian military.
“These 90 judges will go back after some really intensive training, able better to run those courts,” she added.
The program is headed by Sir Howard Morrison, a veteran British barrister, who was appointed an adviser to the Ukrainian prosecutor general in March. He expressed hope that senior figures in the Russian leadership could be prosecuted over Ukraine, just as former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leaders were by the special tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
“I was told … that we would never try [Slobodan] Milosevic, [Radovan] Karadzic or [Ratko] Mladic, and we tried all three,” he told Sky News. “So you don't know how the political winds will change direction in the future.”
Morrison was among the judges in the trial of Karadzic, who was ultimately convicted of genocide and other serious crimes by the tribunal.
Moscow has accused Kiev’s foreign backers of turning a blind eye to evidence of war crimes committed by Ukrainian troops, including several incidents of torture of Russian prisoners of war, which were captured on camera.
The Kremlin also says indiscriminate attacks by Kiev on civilian targets in Donbass were a major reason for its decision in February to send troops into Ukraine. Last week, Russia delivered a letter to the UN Security Council accusing Ukraine of shelling residential areas using the weapons it has received from nations like the US and UK.