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UN Syria war crimes body to open two cases this year

Head of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria crimes, French judge Catherine Marchi-Uhel

Geneva (AFP)

The UN judge responsible for preparing war crimes charges against individuals over the Syrian conflict said Thursday her office plans to open at least two cases by year's end.

Catherine Marchi-Uhel, a French national, heads the body known as the "International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism," which is tasked with bringing those responsible for the most serious crimes in Syria to justice.

"We expect to open two or more specific investigative case files before the end of this year," Marchi-Uhel told reporters in Geneva, without providing details.

Mutiple other UN-backed probes have found evidence of major international crimes by government forces and rebels in the seven-year conflict.

But those inquiries have not attributed legal responsibility to individual leaders or commanders.

In building her cases, Marchi-Uhel said she will focus in part on crimes representative of the widespread violations committed during the conflict as well as acts that had a large impact on the broader war.

She also highlighted that she will focus on all parties to the complex conflict.

Marchi-Uhel described her office as a "quasi-prosecutor" which will be looking to share files with regional and national courts, in addition to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Her office is currently working on requests for cooperation from seven different jurisdictions, she said.

The French judge is a veteran of international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Cambodia.

The Syrian conflict has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions.

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