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France sends mobile DNA lab to Kyiv, as countries coordinate war crimes investigations

France sends mobile DNA lab to Kyiv, as countries coordinate war crimes investigations

France is sending a mobile DNA laboratory to Kyiv, as forensic scientists continue to investigate accusations of war crimes carried out by Russian forces in Ukraine.

“This LAB’DNA is a device (…) allowing rapid genetic analysis of a large quantity of biological samples,” the French foreign ministry said in a Friday statement. 

This mobile lab has already been deployed in the field for high-profile cases, including at the site of the Germanwings crash in the Franch Alps in 2015. 

The donation of the lab was first announced by Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Ukraine in June, but only confirmed Friday. The French president stressed the importance of “ensuring that the war crimes” committed on Ukrainian soil “which the whole world has witnessed do not go unpunished” and that “international law and justice must be applied”.

Ukraine, the UN and many human rights NGOs have denounced apparent war crimes in Ukraine, especially in the region around Kyiv which was occupied by Russian forces in March, and around Mariupol in southeast Ukraine. 

Russia, which launched a war against Ukraine on 24 February, refutes any accusation of war crimes and in return says that Ukrainian forces have staged crimes. 

In early March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine, after receiving a green light on the subject from 43 states.

Nations discuss coordinating Ukraine war crimes probes

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor called this week for an “overarching strategy” to bring perpetrators of war crimes in Ukraine to justice, as representatives from dozens of countries pledged to cooperate in their investigations.

“The simple truth is that, as we speak, children, women and men, the young and the old, are living in terror,” ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said as he opened the Ukraine Accountability Conference in The Hague.

Khan said Thursday’s ministerial meeting addressed “a need of coordination, of coherence” and “the need of an overarching strategy” as different nations and courts work to investigate and prosecute crimes.

As the meeting got underway in The Hague, Russian missiles struck the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia in what Ukraine’s president called “an open act of terrorism” on the country’s civilian population.

Speaking to reporters after the conference, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, held up a photograph that appeared to show a child’s body as she discussed Thursday’s airstrike.

“Today, 20 people killed by Russian missiles, including three children, 52 injured by Russian missiles, including children,” said Venediktova. 

“And this information we have every day from morning to night, night to morning.”

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