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Ukraine assembly wants Yanukovich tried in international criminal court

Source: Reuters - Tue, 25 Feb 2014 12:24 PM
Author: Reuters
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(Adds ICC spokesman, detail)

KIEV, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Ukraine's parliament voted on Tuesday to send fugitive President Viktor Yanukovich to be tried for 'serious crimes' by the International Criminal Court once he has been captured.

A resolution, overwhelmingly supported by the assembly, linked Yanukovich, who was ousted on Saturday and is on the run, to police violence against protesters which had caused the deaths of more than 100 citizens from Ukraine and other states and injured 2,000.

The resolution said two of Yanukovich's close allies - former interior minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and former prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka who are also being sought by the authorities - should also be sent for trial at the ICC, which is based in The Hague.

Over the three months of street unrest and anti-government protests, it said, authorities under Yanukovich had systematically abused their power.

Methods of torture, used by police against protesters, included holding activists naked in temperatures of 15 degrees below freezing, it said.

"Parliament asks the International Criminal Court to hold Viktor Yanukovich and other high-level people criminally responsible for "issuing and carrying out openly criminal orders", it said.

Oleh Myrny, a deputy of the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party, said: "If we don't take this decision, we will not move forward."

A spokesman for the court said on Tuesday it had not received a request from the Ukrainian government to investigate the events leading up to Yanukovich ouster.

"A government can make a declaration accepting the court's jurisdiction for past events," said court spokesman Fadi El Abdallah, adding that it would then be up to the court's prosecutor to decide whether or not to open an investigation.

Yanukovich fled Kiev on Friday night with his chief aide. Ukraine's acting interior minister says Yanukovich is now wanted for "mass murder".

He has travelled to the pro-Russian region of Crimea and other Ukrainian cities since then, the new authorities say, but his precise whereabouts are unknown. (Reporting by Natalia Zinedts, Writing By Richard Balmforth, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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