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Russia continues investigation into South Ossetia 'genocide'

RIA Novosti

12:42 07/08/2009 MOSCOW, August 7 (RIA Novosti) - The criminal investigation into the alleged genocide and mass murder of civilians during the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war has been extended until February 2010, an official spokesperson said on Friday.

Some 162 civilians and 67 Russian service personnel, including peacekeepers, were killed when Georgia attacked the former Georgian republic of South Ossetia last August. Russia reacted swiftly expelling Georgian troops from South Ossetia and forcing them deep into Georgia amid accusations on both sides of human right abuses.

Vladimir Markin, the spokesperson for Russia's Investigative Committee, said: "Nearly 100 legal-medical and other cases have not been completed...the criminal investigation has been extended until February 8, 2010," to give time for the report to be submitted to the European Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court.

"The evidence gathered during the investigation, the scale of the military aggression, Georgia's early and thorough military, political and informational preparations are confirmation that the attack on South Ossetia was aimed at destroying the Ossetian population, living in the republic, and directly planned and organized by the upper political and military echelons of the Georgian administration," Markin said.

According to Markin, the investigations indicated that 17,000 Georgian military personnel, including 2,000 reservists, were involved in the attack on South Ossetia, causing more than 33,000 civilians to flee and take refuge outside the republic.

"In addition, as a result of the Georgian attack on Tskhinvali and other towns in South Ossetia 655 residential buildings were completely destroyed or set on fire and 2,139 houses were damaged," he said.

More than 100 tanks, 70 armored personnel carriers, 110 artillery pieces and mortars, 30 multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS), 210 air defense systems, and nine Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack aircraft, were involved in the offensive Markin said, adding that Georgian troops were equipped with modern weaponry supplied by foreign states.

Investigators also possess evidence of the premeditated murder and kidnapping of civilians, looting and the use of excessive violence against prisoners of war, as well as the controversial use of 500-kilogram aviation bombs and cluster bombs against the civilian population, he said.

Following the war and Russia's subsequent recognition of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another former Georgian republic, Tbilisi severed diplomatic ties with Moscow and declared both republics "occupied territories."

Most residents of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are Russian passport holders.


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