The court said on Monday, Apr. 16, it had concluded that the executions of Polish prisoners of war were a war crime, as the humane treatment of POWs and the ban on murders were a part of the conventional international law the Soviet authorities were compelled to observe. The judgment was made on the lawsuit of 15 family members of the Polish citizens executed in the USSR in 1940.
Although war crimes have no statute of limitations, no new evidence was found in the period since the ratification of the Human Rights Convention to compel the Russian authorities to reopen the case, the court said.
However, due to the Convention and the Court’s opinion, states are bound to investigate violent or suspicious deaths, it said. It also noted that the commitment existed irrespectively of whether the death occurred before or after the Convention entered into force.