Activist hands ICC evidence he says implicates Belarus president in transfer of Ukrainian children

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An exiled Belarus activist on Tuesday presented a second dossier of evidence to the International Criminal Court that he said proves the personal involvement of President Alexander Lukashenko in the illegal transfer of children to Belarus from Russian-occupied towns in Ukraine.

Pavel Latushka, a former Belarusian culture minister, said some of the new information came from “insiders” in Belarus.

“We share additional evidence proving Lukashenko’s direct participation in the unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children to Belarus as leader of the so-called Union State of Belarus and Russia,” Latushka told The Associated Press outside the court's headquarters in The Hague.

The dossier also includes “evidence and previously unknown facts regarding the involvement of various Belarusian and Russian organizations, as well as their leaders and members, in the unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children to Belarus,” he said, and gives more detailed information on a “re-education program for Ukrainian children” at a state-run camp that aims to "change the mentality of the children in Russian world narratives.”

Latushka said the information also includes personal details of 37 Ukrainian children he said were illegally transferred from Ukraine to Belarus.

The foreign affairs ministry in Belarus did not comment Tuesday.

In June, Latushka delivered information to the court he said indicated that more than 2,100 Ukrainian children from at least 15 Russia-occupied Ukrainian cities had been forcibly taken to Belarus with Lukashenko’s approval.

In June, Lukashenko rejected Latushka’s accusations as “madness,” arguing that Belarus has temporarily hosted the children to help them recover from the war’s trauma.

The ICC has an investigation into crimes committed in Ukraine.

In March, the court issued warrants for both Putin and his commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. Judges in The Hague said they found “reasonable grounds to believe” that the two were responsible for the war crimes of unlawful deportation of children and unlawful transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia. Moscow has rejected the allegations.

Latushka was forced to leave Belarus under pressure from Belarusian authorities following Lukashenko’s reelection in a 2020 vote that the opposition and the West denounced as rigged. He now lives in Poland.

Any group or individual can send evidence of alleged crimes to the ICC. Prosecutors assess submissions to “identify those that appear to fall within the jurisdiction of the Court and warrant further action,” the court says on its website. If they do, they could be investigated or fed into an ongoing investigation.

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Associated Press writer Yuras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia, contributed.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine