Ukrainian evidence handed over to UK war crimes police is ‘among the worst ever’
Anti-terror police in Britain who are collecting evidence of potential war crimes in Ukraine say they have been struck by the “incredibly harrowing” testimonies and eyewitness accounts from the frontline of the conflict.
The Metropolitan Police’s War Crimes Team, which is a unit within its Counter Terrorism Command (CTC), said it has already received around 50 referrals from people with a connection to Britain, including those who have directly fled the conflict over the past two months. since Russia started invading.
Scotland Yard announced last month that it supports the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into alleged war crimes and called on anyone with direct evidence to come forward.
Detective Chief Superintendent Dominic Murphy, providing an update on the evidence collection operation as the CLC’s chief operating officer, told the PA news agency: ‘What we are seeing is incredibly heartbreaking, at beyond comprehension
“In nearly 17 years in counterterrorism, [it is] some of the worst possible images you can imagine seeing.
He said it would be for the judiciary to decide whether the evidence and evidence collected so far – which is tested to a British standard of proof – could be used to support a charge of genocide.
Mr Murphy said: ‘Does this provide evidence of a war crime? Very probably.
“Does it provide evidence of other international crimes? Very probably.
“And then it’s to those prosecuting agencies that we provide the information necessary to make those kinds of judgments and decisions.”
“We are really committed to supporting the best possible outcome here and that is getting justice for the victims and the best evidence.”
He said all frontline police officers across the country had been briefed over the past two months on how to support those who presented evidence.
Agents based at ports and borders are also asking people arriving in the UK if they may have evidence for the ICC investigation.
This is particularly important as more and more Ukrainians are being granted refugee status in the UK, police said.
Mr Murphy added: “We are putting processes and procedures in place that we want to embed into everyone’s subconscious so that when more people arrive here in the UK we are better able to grasp that.
“We have to remember that people are actually going through this, and some of the people coming to this country have been through it or been much closer to it than any of us can imagine.”
Police said they want to collect as much first-hand evidence as possible.
This could take the form of messages Ukrainians have sent to relatives in the UK and video footage taken on camera phones by those in conflict zones.
It does not include anything from social media or seen in news stories.
Mr Murphy said the force was “totally determined” not to reduce the national security and counter-terrorism work force while it supported the war crimes investigation.