Warcrimes court probes North Korea after attacks on South

6th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced Monday a probe into suspected war crimes committed by North Korea in recent shelling of a South Korean island and the sinking of a warship.

"Luis Moreno-Ocampo confirmed that (his office) has opened a preliminary examination to evaluate if some incidents constitute war crimes under the jurisdiction of the Court," a statement said.

"They are:

"a) the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island on the 23 November 2010 which resulted in the killing of South Korean marines and civilians and the injury of many others; and

"b) the sinking of a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, hit by a torpedo allegedly fired from a North Korean submarine on 26 March 2010, which resulted in the death of 46 persons."

The North killed two civilians and two marines and destroyed 29 homes in an artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island, sending regional tensions soaring.

It said Seoul provoked the attack by carrying out live-fire exercises on the island that sent shells into waters claimed by the North.

International investigators blamed North Korea for the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in March with the death of 46 sailors.

The North continues to deny responsibility for the loss of the 1,200-ton Cheonan, which split in two on March 26 near the tense inter-Korea sea border off the west coast.

Yeonpyeong lies just south of the border declared by United Nations forces after the 1950-53 Korean War, but north of the sea frontier declared by Pyongyang.

The ICC statement said that Moreno-Ocampo's office had "received communications alleging that North Korean forces committed war crimes in the territory of the Republic of Korea," without specifying the origin.

The International Criminal Court is an independent, permanent court that investigates and prosecutes persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes if national authorities with jurisdiction are unwilling or unable to do so genuinely.

© 2010 AFP

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