A Ukrainian woman on Monday, June 26, brought charges in Germany against four Russian military members for allegedly raping her and killing her husband.

 

The complaint was filed with the German federal prosecutors in Karlsruhe together with the human rights group ECCHR and the Ukrainian Legal Advisory Group NGO. 

 

The attack allegedly took place "a few weeks" after the beginning of Moscow's invasion, while Russian forces were occupying the woman's village near Kyiv, the ECCHR said in a statement.

 

"After repeated intimidation and humiliation by members of these forces, two soldiers entered the family's property, shot her husband dead and then raped her multiple times," it said.

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The four members of the military targeted by the complaint included two high-ranking officials, it said. 

 

While none had been arrested, one was already facing trial in absentia in Ukraine.

 

"Accounts of similar crimes have been numerous," the ECCHR said, with over 200 cases already opened by Ukrainian prosecutors in relation to conflict-related sexual violence.

 

The alleged incident was "part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Ukrainian population" and constituted "crimes against humanity", it said.

 

The woman, who fled to Germany with her son following the attack, filed the complaint "to hold all perpetrators fully accountable" and encourage German authorities "to work to complement investigations already underway in Ukraine", the ECCHR said.

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The human rights group said the legal framework in the war-torn country was insufficient to fully bring the alleged perpetrators to justice.

 

As well as the difficulty of running the judiciary in wartime, the Ukrainian system did not recognise crimes against humanity or the responsibility of commanders for the actions of their subordinates.

 

The federal prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe applies the principle of universal jurisdiction -- which allows it to pursue people for crimes of exceptional gravity, including war crimes and genocide, even if they were committed in a different country.

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The criminal complaint, as such, called on German prosecutors "to support the efforts of the Ukrainian authorities".

 

"It is important that cases of grave crimes are investigated in accordance with the international standards," while the Ukrainian system "does not have the capacity", ULAG director Nadia Volkova said in the statement.

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