Int’l court reviewing actions by the NorthThe International Criminal Court said yesterday it has started reviewing the Cheonan sinking and North Korea’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island to determine whether the two incidents constitute an “international crime” by North Korea.
The announcement came as Seoul and its allies are seeking ways to hold the North responsible for the recent provocations.
“The Office of the Prosecutor has received communications alleging that North Korean forces committed war crimes in the territory of the Republic of Korea,” said the ICC Web site.
“The prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, confirmed that the office has opened a preliminary examination to evaluate if some incidents constitute war crimes under the jurisdiction of the court.”
The preliminary examination, the ICC said, is to determine if the Rome Statute criteria for opening an investigation are met.
The ICC, founded in 2002 under the Rome Statute, is a tribunal to punish those responsible for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. It has 114 member countries as of this year, including South Korea. Fourteen other Asian countries are ICC members. North Korea is not among them.
Seoul said it is pleased at the ICC’s move.
“We welcome the ICC’s decision,” said an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. “The government is not involved with this, but its position as an ICC member is to actively cooperate with the ICC, such as providing information.”
The ICC did not disclose who filed the petition on the two cases, which Seoul considers among the biggest North Korean provocations since the Korean War.
Forty-six soldiers were killed in the sinking of the Cheonan in March and four people - two civilians and two marines - were slain in the Yeonpyeong shelling on Nov. 23.
The South Korean government has said it is consulting with members of the UN Security Council over the possibility of denouncing North Korea over the Yeonpyeong attack.
The UN Security Council issued a statement in July condemning the North indirectly over the Cheonan incident.
By Moon Gwang-lip [firstname.lastname@example.org]