World court hears Georgian claim of Russian rights abuse

September 8th, 2008 - 6:35 pm ICT by IANS  

The Hague, Sep 8 (RIA Novosti) The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in this third largest Dutch city began Monday hearing of Georgian claims of Russian human rights violations. Tbilisi claims that Russian forces and local militias infringed on the human rights of Georgian nationals residing in its breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia between 1990 and 2008.

It says a systematic campaign against Georgians in the republics has forced more than 300,000 out of their homes since 1991.

Georgia is seeking an injunction from the court ordering Moscow to halt “murder” and “forced displacement” in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The court must first decide if it has jurisdiction in the case.

Russia also accuses Georgia of crimes against humanity in connection with its massive air and ground attack on Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway Georgian region South Ossetia, on Aug 8.

Moscow says hundreds of civilians plus a number of its peacekeepers were killed by Georgian forces during the attack. Most residents of South Ossetia have Russian citizenship.

Moscow has threatened to have Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili tried as a war criminal.

Both Russia and Georgia have been accused by the US-based group Human Rights Watch of “indiscriminate attacks” on civilians during the fighting.

The case opened as French President Nicolas Sarkozy led a European Union (EU) delegation to Moscow in a bid to persuade Russia to pull its peacekeeping forces out of positions inside Georgia.

Russia recognized South Ossetia and, another Georgian breakaway region, Abkhazia Aug 26, two weeks after it had concluded its operation “to force Georgia to peace.”

So far, only Nicaragua has joined Russia in recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s following bloody conflicts that left thousands dead.

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