Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday that the US Justice Department is assisting international efforts to investigate suspected war crimes perpetrated during Russia’s war on Ukraine, adding that “we have seen the mass graves” and bombed buildings.
“We have seen the dead bodies of civilians, some with bound hands, scattered in the streets,” Garland said, flanked by FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
“The world sees what is happening in Ukraine. The Justice Department sees what is happening in Ukraine,” he continued.
Garland’s comments come just days after photographs of Ukrainian people killed in Bucha, a town near Kyiv, were published. In the midst of rising worldwide outrage over alleged atrocities committed by the Russian military, President Joe Biden declared that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “war criminal.”
“This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone’s seen it,” Biden added.
Garland stated on Wednesday that the Justice Department has a “long history” of assisting in the prosecution of alleged war crimes. He referred to Robert Jackson, a former attorney general and Supreme Court justice who served as the lead American prosecutor at the post-World War II Nuremberg trials.
He stated that in reaction to the horrors in Ukraine, a top Justice Department official met with a French war crimes prosecutor in Paris. Garland stated that Justice Department officials have also visited with Eurojust and Europol, two European Union law enforcement agencies, and are aiding Ukraine’s chief prosecutor.
When asked if he supports the establishment of a Nuremberg-style trial, Garland replied, “I’m not requesting anything at this moment. We are currently at the stage of gathering proof.”