Ukrainian citizen files criminal complaint in Argentinian court concerning his torture by Russians

18 April 2024

“I was detained at work. Then they tortured me. They used electric shocks. It was incredibly painful, so I lost consciousness. I was lucky to survive. Many people are still there,” — Ukrainian M. tells about his illegal detention by the Russians and subsequent torture. He does not reveal his last name or show his face for security reasons because his relatives are still in the occupied territory.

On April 15, M. was the first Ukrainian citizen to file a lawsuit with the Federal Court of Argentina, in which he accuses the Russian military of torture. Lawyers and journalists of the non-governmental Ukrainian organization for documenting war crimes, The Reckoning Project (TRP), helped prepare the voluminous lawsuit of seven dozen pages.

Natalia Humeniuk, co-founder of the project, explains why they chose Argentina. “First, it is legally possible. Secondly, this country has experience in the investigation of cases involving torture, in particular, electric current, which was in our case. The very fact of opening the case shows that crime has no borders, especially a crime involving torture,” Ms Humeniuk told TSN.

The Constitution of Argentina allows its courts, based on universal jurisdiction, to try international crimes, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, irrespective of where they occurred. Previously, they had already investigated cases from such countries as Spain, Myanmar and Yemen. If the court takes the case into consideration, it will become an important precedent for consideration of cases about Russian war crimes in Ukraine outside the borders of Europe and the United States.

Natalia Humeniuk adds that over the past two years, the project team has spoken with hundreds of people who survived war crimes in Ukraine. They include kidnapping, detention in inhumane conditions, torture, and electrocution.

“Mr M’s story, unfortunately, is one of many. We cannot expect that one legal system is able to cope with such a large number of crimes, as stated by the UN statements. For us, Ukrainians, the Argentine examination of the courts is at the same time a call for international support in defending the rule of law, and a hope that justice is possible,” she said.

“I am one of many. I know quite a lot of those who have experienced far worse treatment. I want to tell the whole world about our pain. Because the torture of people continues to be practised in the Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia,” says the victim.

Meanwhile, The Reckoning Project team is working on a documentary on the case in cooperation with Maciek Hamela, an award-winning Polish filmmaker.

Photo – TRP.