The appeals judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorised the prosecutor to probe into the alleged war crimes committed by the US forces in Afghanistan. The Appeals Chamber overturned the decision of pre-trial judges to reject the demand of the prosecutor to open an extensive investigation into the crimes committed in the Asian nation.
In April last year, the pre-trial judges at the Hague-based had rejected the probe demand made by the prosecutor saying an investigation would not be in the “interests of justice”. The prosecutor filed an appeal against the decision and Judge Piotr Hofmański, who presided over the appeal, read out the summary of the appeals chamber's judgment in open court on March 5.
The appeals chamber found that the pre-trial chamber erred in considering the “interests of justice” factor while examining authorisation request to open an investigation. Hofmański said that the pre-trial chamber should have addressed only whether there was a reasonable factual basis for the prosecutor to proceed with an investigation and whether the potential case(s) arising from such investigation would appear to fall within the Court's jurisdiction.
The Appeals chambers noted that the pre-trial chamber’s decision contained all the necessary factual findings and confirmation of a reasonable basis to consider that crimes within the ICC jurisdiction have been committed in Afghanistan. The Appeals judges decided to authorise the opening of an investigation themselves rather than sending the matter back to the pre-trial chamber for a new decision.
“The Appeals Chamber found that the Prosecutor is authorised to investigate...the crimes alleged to have been committed on the territory of Afghanistan since 1 May 2003, as well as other alleged crimes that have a nexus to the armed conflict in Afghanistan,” the statement read. Judge Ibáñez Carranza filed a separate opinion on the interpretation of article 15 and its relationship with article 53 of the Rome Statute.