US Attorney General Garland visits Ukraine to discuss war crimes probe
- Garland met his Ukrainian counterpart Iryna Venediktova
- US DoJ said it would support an international war crime trial against Russia
- "There is no hiding place for war criminals", Garland said previously
United States Attorney General Merrick Garland made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Tuesday and met his counterpart Iryna Venediktova, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General.
The unannounced trip was to discuss the efforts of curbing suspected war crimes in the Russia- Ukraine conflict, according to media reports citing officials from the US Department of Justice.
Attorney General Garland -- and by extension the US Department of Justice -- announced support for Ukraine's effort to hold an international war crimes trial against the Russian forces. Ukraine's judiciary is already conducting such trials on a national level.
In a virtual meeting last month with Ukrainian officials, Garland said, "Every day, we see the heartbreaking images and read the horrific accounts of brutality... But there is no hiding place for war criminals", USA Today reported.
Venediktova has meanwhile been gathering evidence to back Ukraine's claim of war crimes. The evidence includes documents relating to mass graves, reports of civilians shot at close range with their hands bound, bodies showing signs of torture and brutal accounts of rape.
Several other members of US President Joe Biden's cabinet have already visited Ukraine over the last four months. These include Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Various Congressional delegations have also visited Ukraine.
What has happened so far about the alleged war crimes?
Ukrainian authorities have been conducting war crimes trials for Russian soldiers who have been captured since February 24, when the invasion started.
In the first of what could be a multitude of war crimes trials held by Ukraine, Russian Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, was sentenced for the killing of a 62-year-old man who was shot in the head in a village in the northeastern Sumy region in the opening days of the war.
Shishimarin, a member of a tank unit, had claimed he was following orders, and he apologized to the man's widow in court, Associated Press reported.