Germany probing possible war crime in Ukraine

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German authorities are investigating a possible war crime committed in the Ukrainian city of Hostomel, a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors told AFP on Wednesday.

Civilians including a German citizen were allegedly shot at and injured by Russian forces in the city north-west of Kyiv, the spokeswoman said.

An investigation into the incident was opened in July and German prosecutors are in close contact with Ukrainian authorities, she added.

German prosecutors had already opened a so-called structural investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine in March 2022.

A structural investigation does not target particular suspects, but aims to gather evidence of the suspected crimes and identify the structures behind them, such as the chain of command.

The evidence can then be used in future criminal proceedings against individual suspects.

Russia has come under intense criticism for its assault on Ukrainian cities, in operations that Kyiv and Western governments say have included attacks on schools, hospitals and residential blocks.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) launched an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine just days after Russia's invasion on February 24, 2022.

Earlier this year, the ICC also announced an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on the war crime accusation of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.

Germany has in the past repeatedly prosecuted atrocities committed abroad, including the war in Syria.

It does so using the legal principle of universal jurisdiction -- which allows countries to try people for crimes of exceptional gravity, including war crimes and genocide, even if they were committed in a different country.