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Ukraine war: Putin will be held responsible for shopping centre ‘war crime’, say G7 leaders

Monday’s Russian missile strike on a crowded shopping centre in central Ukraine has been strongly condemned by the United Nations and the West. G7 leaders have labelled it a war crime and vowed to hold President Putin accountable.

Firefighters and soldiers are searching for survivors in the rubble of the building in Kremenchuk, following the attack which is known to have killed at least 18 people and injured dozens. More than 30 people are missing, authorities say.

Early on Tuesday, family members of the missing lined up at a hotel across the street where rescue workers had set up a base.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called Russia the world’s “largest terrorist organisation” in the wake of the deadly bombing. More than 1,000 people were inside when two Russian missiles slammed into the building, he said.

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) major democracies, at a summit in Germany, said the attack was “abominable”.

“Indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime. Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held to account,” they wrote in a joint statement tweeted by the German government spokesperson.

At Ukraine’s request, the United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting in New York to discuss the attack.

The UN called the strike “deplorable”, stressing that civilian infrastructure “should never ever be targeted”,  spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. 

At least 18 people were killed and 25 hospitalised, while about 36 were missing, said Dmytro Lunin, governor of the Poltava region, said on Tuesday. The number of dead is two more than Monday’s overnight figure, and there are fears that more bodies may be found. Emergency service said on Monday that 59 people had been injured.

Russia’s attack on Kremenchuk was one of several across Ukraine to hit civilians on Monday:

  • At least eight were killed and 21 wounded in a Russian bombardment while collecting water in the eastern city of Lysychansk, regional authorities said.
  • Russian forces shelled central districts of the city of Kharkiv, hitting apartment buildings and a primary school and killing five people and wounding 22, the regional governor said. Five children were among the injured, he added.
  • Six people were reportedly injured including a child in a missile strike in the Odesa region, in southern Ukraine, that destroyed residential buildings and caused a fire.

 

The missile strike on Kremenchuk unfolded as Western leaders pledged continued support for Ukraine, and the world’s major economies prepared new sanctions against Russia, including a price cap on oil and higher tariffs on goods.

Zelenskyy said the mall presented “no threat to the Russian army” and had “no strategic value”. He accused Russia of sabotaging “people’s attempts to live a normal life, which make the occupiers so angry”.

In his nightly address, he said it appeared Russian forces had intentionally targeted the shopping centre. “Today’s Russian strike at a shopping mall in Kremenchuk is one of the most daring terrorist attacks in European history,” he added.

Kremenchuk Mayor Vitaliy Maletskiy wrote on Facebook that the attack “hit a very crowded area, which is 100% certain not to have any links to the armed forces”.

Kremenchuk lies some 330 kilometres southeast of Kyiv, and is more than 200 kilometres from the eastern front line.

In the first Russian government comment on the missile strike, UN representative Dmitry Polyanskiy alleged multiple inconsistencies that he didn’t specify, claiming on Twitter that the incident was a “provocation” by Ukraine. He later retweeted a post from another official Russian organisation appearing to hint the attack had been staged.

Russia has repeatedly denied it targets civilian infrastructure, even though Russian attacks have hit other shopping centres, theatres, hospitals, kindergartens and apartment buildings.

Images from the scene in the aftermath of the latest attack showed giant plumes of black smoke, dust and orange flames, with emergency crews rushing in to search broken metal and concrete for victims and put out fires.

Russia has increasingly used long-range bombers in the war. Ukrainian officials said Russian Tu-22M3 long-range bombers flying over Russia’s western Kursk region fired the missile that hit the shopping centre, as well as another that hit a sports arena in Kremenchuk.

The Russian strike echoed attacks earlier in the war that caused large numbers of civilian casualties — such as one in March on a Mariupol theatre where many civilians had holed up, killing an estimated 600, and another in April on a train station in eastern Kramatorsk that left at least 59 people dead.

46 people believed to be migrants found dead in Texas tractor-trailer

The bodies of 46 people believed to be migrants were found in a tractor-trailer in San Antonio on Monday in what appeared to be one of the deadliest human-smuggling incidents in recent U.S. history.

About 5:50 p.m., a worker heard a cry for help and found a trailer with the doors partially open, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said. The worker opened the doors, found “a number of deceased individuals inside” and called police.

Firefighters found a body outside the trailer and several inside in the area of 9600 Quintana Road, in the southwestern part of the city, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said.

First responders described seeing bodies piled on top of one another inside the trailer.

Sixteen survivors — 12 adults and four minors — were taken to hospitals, Hood said.

“The patients that we saw were hot to the touch,” he said. “They were suffering from heat stroke, heat exhaustion. [There were] no signs of water in the vehicle. It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer, but there was no visible, working AC unit on that rig.”

Temperatures in the area were as high as 99 degrees Monday.

Those who survived, mostly young adults, were too weak to get out of the trailer, Hood said.

A spokesperson for University Hospital in San Antonio confirmed the facility was treating two patients in critical condition.

Two of the survivors were identified as Guatemalan, Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said on Twitter. Officials from the Guatemalan Migration Institute and the nation’s consulate in McAllen, Texas, said they were awaiting the identity of those in the truck and could not confirm whether any were Guatemalan.

Three people are in custody, McManus said, but authorities “don’t know if they are absolutely connected to this or not.” The investigation has been turned over to U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, McManus said.

Federal agents responded to a call reporting “an alleged human smuggling event” from San Antonio police, a spokesperson for Homeland Security Investigations told The Times.

Agents arrived at the scene on Quintana Road near Cassin Drive, the spokesperson said, and launched an investigation with the support of the San Antonio Police Department.

Local TV news footage showed San Antonio police blocking a narrow road near railroad tracks. Several ambulances were on scene as authorities surrounded the tractor-trailer.

The tractor-trailer had U.S. license plates, a possible attempt to avoid scrutiny, and is very likely the work of traffickers, Ebrard said.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg called the deaths “nothing short of a horrific tragedy.”

“We know of 46 individuals who are no longer with us who had families, who were likely trying to find a better life, and we have 16 folks who are fighting for their lives in the hospital,” Nirenberg said. “Our focus right now is to try to bring aid to them as as best we can.”

San Antonio City Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia, who represents the area where the tractor-trailer was found, was at the scene late Monday.

“These families, I can’t imagine what they’re going through, not knowing if their family member was one of the ones who passed away,” Garcia said. “All they were doing was trying to come for a better life.”

Smuggling migrants in tractor-trailers is a common practice along the Southwest border.

In 2003, 19 people died after they were abandoned in a trailer at a truck stop in Victoria, Texas. The driver, Tyrone Mapletoft Williams, was convicted and is serving a sentence of nearly 34 years in prison.

In 2017, 10 people died after they were left in a tractor-trailer outside a Walmart in San Antonio. The driver, James Matthew Bradley Jr., was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Last year, 55 migrants who were being smuggled through Mexico died in a tractor-trailer crash near the Guatemalan border.

The number of migrants relying on smugglers has surged in recent decades amid tougher enforcement by U.S. and Mexican immigration authorities after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Migrants now pay as much as $10,000 to smuggling networks that are closely linked to drug traffickers. Rape, kidnapping and extortion along the migrant trail are common.

Harsh border policies, migrant advocates say, have forced those trying to reach the U.S. to take increasingly dangerous risks.

“It’s a policy of death,” tweeted Adam Isacson, a researcher at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights group.

In recent years, U.S. border enforcement has targeted not only economic migrants seeking work but also asylum seekers in search of protection.

Title 42, which former President Trump invoked in 2020 on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19, allows border authorities to immediately expel migrants, even if they say they want to seek asylum in the U.S. Since it was put in place, the U.S. has expelled migrants nearly 2 million times.

The Biden administration sought to lift Title 42 this year, but its efforts were blocked by a judge after 24 states sued. Texas filed its own lawsuit to block the move.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blamed the deaths of the migrants in San Antonio on President Biden. “They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law,” Abbott said in a tweet.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) tweeted that he had spoken with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas about the the deaths, which were “most likely the victims of merciless human smugglers.”

Federal agents are working to alert the victims’ families, find those responsible and investigate what happened, Castro said.

Mayorkas, meanwhile, tweeted that he was heartbroken by the loss of life.

Times staff writer Molly Hennessy-Fiske contributed to this report.

G7 leaders mock shirtless Putin during summit lunch

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Various G7 leaders joined U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in mocking Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of a meeting on Sunday.

Johnson made the quip while gathered around a table with U.S. President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and others. The leaders are meeting for the G7 summit in Bavaria throughout this week.

“Jackets on? Jackets off? Shall we take our clothes off?” Johnson said, referencing the reportedly intense temperature of the room.

Trudeau suggested they keep the jackets on long enough to take pictures.

RUSSIAN SOLDIER ON TRIAL FOR WAR CRIMES BEGS FOR FORGIVENESS

U.S. President Joe Biden, center, attends a working lunch with other G7 leaders to discuss shaping the global economy. Clockwise from left, Fumio Kishida (covered), Prime Minister of Japan, Ursula von der Leyen (covered), President of the European Commission, Charles Michel, President of the European Council, Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of Italy, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister of France, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, US President Joe Biden and Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom sit at the first working session in Castle Elmau, in Elmau, Germany, Sunday, June 26, 2022. The Group of Seven leading economic powers are meeting in Germany for their annual gathering Sunday through Tuesday. (Kenny Holston/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

U.S. President Joe Biden, center, attends a working lunch with other G7 leaders to discuss shaping the global economy. Clockwise from left, Fumio Kishida (covered), Prime Minister of Japan, Ursula von der Leyen (covered), President of the European Commission, Charles Michel, President of the European Council, Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of Italy, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister of France, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, US President Joe Biden and Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom sit at the first working session in Castle Elmau, in Elmau, Germany, Sunday, June 26, 2022. The Group of Seven leading economic powers are meeting in Germany for their annual gathering Sunday through Tuesday. (Kenny Holston/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

BIDEN SAYS G-7 WILL BAN RUSSIAN GOLD IMPORTS OVER WAR IN UKRAINE

“We have to show that we’re tougher than Putin,” Johnson quipped.

“We’re going to get the bare-chested horseback riding display,” Trudeau added.

Johnson ribbed, “We’ve got to show them our pecs,” while Von der Leyen interjected, “Horseback riding is the best.”

Biden did not weigh in on the jokes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin rides a horse during his vacation outside the town of Kyzyl in Southern Siberia on August 3, 2009

Russian President Vladimir Putin rides a horse during his vacation outside the town of Kyzyl in Southern Siberia on August 3, 2009
(ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP via Getty Images)

In public photos, Putin has long sought to portray himself as a skilled athlete and outdoorsman.

The exchange came hours after the Biden administration accused Russia of using torture and electrocution in its invasion of Ukraine on Sunday. Biden has repeatedly called for Putin to face a war crimes trial.

A White House statement marked the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. 

“Any instance of torture is one too many, and yet every year countless victims suffer this brutal violation of their human rights and dignity,” Biden wrote. “This year we have been shocked by the horrific acts committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, including multiple, credible reports of torture such as beatings, electric shocks, and mock executions.”

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“In Mali and Burkina Faso, terrorist groups have been documented to have massacred and tortured local populations, while in Mali and Central African Republic, Kremlin-aligned Wagner mercenaries have reportedly employed similar cruel and unlawful tactics,” he added.

Ukrainian authorities are prosecuting roughly 16,000 cases of alleged war crimes by Russian forces.

Russia-Ukraine War: Latest News and Updates

Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

MYKOLAIV, Ukraine — The mayor of this embattled southern port city, under attack from Russian forces since the start of the war, has called for “everyone who wants to survive” to leave, because “it’s not clear when all this will be over.”

The mayor, Oleksandr Senkevych, said in an interview with Radio Liberty that the city was being shelled daily, and that “around 80 percent of those munitions are cluster munitions” fired from Russian multiple-launch rocket systems.

A large exodus from Mykolaiv, once a major hub of Soviet shipbuilding, has already occurred. About 230,000 people remain in the city, less than half of its peacetime population of 480,000. Many are older, and about 80 percent of them survive on food and clothes distributed by aid organizations.

The strategic importance of the city is pivotal. Almost overrun in the first weeks of fighting, Mykolaiv’s defenders have pushed Russian forces back to a distance of at least 20 miles at their closest point. Still, the Russian army is close enough to inflict casualties and damage at will with missiles and artillery.

The mayor’s statement was somewhat surprising, in that the combative, never-say-die spirit of Mykolaiv has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance. The city is calmer than in March, when the bombardment was relentless. Departures have slowed to a trickle.

Among those remaining in Mykolaiv are tens of thousands of people who have already moved once, from surrounding villages either taken or immediately threatened by Russian forces.

Vitaliy Kim, the head of the regional military administration, has become something of a national idol through his consistent bravura in video and other messages, calling the Russian army “stupid,” among other dismissive remarks.

Mykolaiv stands between the Russian invading force and Odesa, Ukraine’s largest maritime city 70 miles to the west. A landlocked Ukraine deprived of access to the Black Sea, the conduit for much of its grain and other exports, would be a seriously compromised power. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has made no secret of coveting Odesa, founded by a Russian empress, as part of his own imperial plans.

Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times
Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

“Shelling is from the Kherson region,” the mayor said in the Radio Liberty interview, alluding to the city about 40 miles to the east that Russian forces captured early in the war. “That’s why it’s impossible to switch on the siren in advance. The shells explode in the city and then the siren goes.” He added that “highly precise” cruise missiles had ruined the city’s infrastructure.

Mayors in other parts of Ukraine have advised residents not actively involved in the resistance effort to leave cities under attack. But Mr. Senkevych’s request appeared more sweeping. The interview was published on Friday, but it was not clear when it was conducted.

At least 111 civilians have been killed in Mykolaiv since late February. Military casualties are not known.

One Russian missile hit a residential area of Mykolaiv a little over a week ago, killing one person and injuring 20. Another on Wednesday hit grain and vegetable oil terminals at the port. At the same time, however, Ukrainian forces have counterattacked in the Kherson area; they say they have recaptured some villages.

In a separate interview this week with The New York Times, Mr. Senkevych, 40, said he expected the war to go on “at least until April or May next year.” He described the people still in the city as older people “ready to die here,” comparing them, in a seemingly odd analogy, to Pharaohs “who do not want to leave their pyramids.”

Evacuations had been running at four to eight buses a day early in the war, but were now down to one or two a week, the mayor said. There was no suggestion in The Times interview that the mayor, whose own wife and two children left Mykolaiv within “2.5 hours of the first bombardment,” thought that anyone wanting to survive should leave.

Mr. Senkevych said in that interview that he had received messages from Russian forces urging him to surrender. “Mayor, you have to give up, you don’t want to end up like Mariupol,” one of these messages said, a reference to the Ukrainian city on the Sea of Azov that Russia besieged, flattened and ultimately captured.

“They think the mayor can decide to surrender!” he said dismissively.

Marc Santora contributed reporting from Warsaw.

Ukrainian refugee family of 8 receives ‘City of Good Neighbors’ welcome

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WKBW) — After four anxious months, a Ukrainian refugee family has finally arrived in their new home here in Western New York.

The family, who arrived in Buffalo Thursday morning, had to deal with a delayed flight departing from La Guardia Airport, in Queens.

Though, that was far from all they had to wait. They came to Western New York from Ukraine, in a trip that was first supposed to happen in February.

The Goryachkina’s, a family of eight, are among the millions of people who have left their home country, since Russia began its invasion, in late February.

“I would say we just trusted God for what he has for us and we just kept praying,” Zhenya Goryachkina, who is one of the six children, said.

The Goryachkina’s felt the “City of Good Neighbor’s” love, as they exited the terminal at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

The family’s sponsor, Natalia Vasylchuk said, “We are glad they are here!”

The family has been traveling for the last 24 hours, but their real journey began in Poland where they sought refuge in early March, after the Ukraine-Russia war began.

From Poland, they flew to Frankfort, Germany, then New York City where they were delayed for one night on Wednesday, due to inclement weather. They eventually made their way to Buffalo.

Vasylchuk said, “We were expecting them to come, back on February 17, I believe and they got positive for COVID. On the day that the war broke out, they were out of quarantine, but they could not live in the country anymore. It took several days to leave the country, get through the border to travel to Hungary and travel through several countries in Europe.”

“It was not easy to wait, especially for my mom because she has some heart problems. Some diagnosis basically. We were mostly worried about her and how she would go through this process of waiting,” Goryachkina said.

Natalia Vasylchuk is the family’s sponsor, also known as an anchor relative. She and a village of Buffalonians of various religious organizations, native speakers and the Dnipro Ukrainian Cultural Center of Buffalo, New York, were able to gather necessities for the family’s arrival.

“I couldn’t do it myself. We are the village guys. So, the whole entire Buffalo community, Ukrainian-Russian speakers, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Baptist, random people from the community opened their hearts. They donated so much stuff. We feel so blessed! We were able to rent a house and put everything. We have multiple volunteers who came last week working through 12 o’clock and 1 o’clock in the morning to set up the beds,” Vasylchuk said. “It’s amazing. People want to help, they want to come support, meet and take care of their needs.”

Each member of the family arrived to Buffalo with just one personal bag and a checked bag. The last 24 hours, the family has had limited sleep due to traveling.

“It was still a good time. We met wonderful people. There were so many people that were helping refugees and they were so kind, so nice to us and we were just for everything and what was happening there[Poland],” Goryachkina said.

These new Western New Yorkers said they are grateful to be looking forward to getting acquainted with the area and helping other refugees in need.

Oslo shooting near gay bar investigated as terrorism, as Pride parade is canceled

Two people were killed and eight others taken to hospital after the shooting near the London Pub, which describes itself on its website as “the largest gay and lesbian venue in Oslo.”

Police received multiple calls about the shooting at 1:14 a.m. local time, and arrived at the scene minutes later. They apprehended the male suspect three minutes after arrival, police said.

The suspect, charged with terrorism, is a Norwegian citizen originally from Iran, and was “known to the police,” but has only received “minor convictions” up until now, prosecutor Christian Hatlo told reporters in Oslo Saturday.

Norway’s domestic intelligence service said it was working to clarify whether more acts of violence may be planned after the shooting. The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) announced in a tweet Saturday that it was “informed about the shooting in Oslo on Saturday.”

“We are now contributing all the relevant information we have to the Oslo police district and are working to clarify whether more acts of violence may be planned. We do not currently have any indications of that,” the PST said.

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Hatlo said police had charged the suspect with “murder, attempted murder and terrorist acts.”

He said the terrorism charge was justified on the basis of the number of injured and dead people, the number of crime scenes and an “overall assessment” indicating that the accused intended to “create serious fear in the population.”

At the time of the press conference, police had attempted to question the suspect but had not yet been successful in doing so, Hatlo said. The suspect was taken to the police station, and police told CNN there were currently no other suspects.

As for the charges, Hatlo said the authorities will see “what the investigation shows.”

The suspect was armed with two weapons during the shooting, police said. They did not confirm what weapons he used due to the pending investigation.

Police stand guard at the site of a mass shooting in Oslo, early Saturday.
Flowers are left at the scene of the shooting in central Oslo.

There were wounded people on the ground inside and outside the bar when the police arrived. “The scene was chaotic, it was a warm evening and a lot of people were outside, so there were people running everywhere,” police told CNN.

Among the eight in hospital, three people are in critical condition. Another 14 victims sustained minor injuries.

In a statement published on Facebook after the shooting, the London Pub condemned the incident as “absolutely awful and pure evil.” The bar said all its employees were safe, and expressed condolences for the victims and their families.

Oslo’s annual Pride parade, scheduled to take place on Saturday, was canceled in the wake of the shootings after “clear advice and recommendation from the police.”
Writing on Facebook, organizers asked everyone not to attend and said all events in connection with Pride were also canceled.

“We will follow the police’s recommendations and take care of each other. Warm thoughts and love go to relatives, the injured and others affected,” said leader of Oslo Pride, Inger Kristin Haugsevje, and leader of the Association for Gender and Sexuality Diversity, Inge Alexander Gjestvang, in a joint statement.

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“We will soon be proud and visible again, but today we will hold and share the pride celebrations from home.”

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre also expressed his condolences to the victims, calling the shooting “a cruel and deeply shocking attack on innocent people.”

Støre later called for unity and said “even though we do not know if the queer environment was the goal, the queer environment is regardless the victim.”

“This day, June 25th, we were to celebrate love, we were to fill the streets in the colors of the rainbow, we were to showcase our community and our freedom. Instead, we are filled with grief,” he said. “Let there be no doubt. We are a community, we are a diverse and strong community, and we will never be threatened or give up our values.”

He re-reiterated that the perpetrator belonged “to an Islamist environment” but emphasized that “if this is Islamic terror, as PST [the Norwegian Police Security Service] points out, then many Muslims will feel vulnerable today and, in the time ahead. And I know that many Muslims in our country are also scared and in despair. It is our common responsibility to make it clear that no one other than the person or the people behind the attack is responsible for it.”

The White House said it was shocked by the killings. “We’re all horrified by the mass shooting in Oslo today, targeting the LGBTQI+ community there. And our house our hearts obviously go out to all the families of the victims, the people of Norway, which is a tremendous ally,” John Kirby, the NSC coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters aboard Air Force One as President Biden was flying to Europe.

He said the US has been in touch with the Norwegian government to offer condolences and offer any support they need after the shooting.

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Rodrigo Duterte: ICC prosecutor aims to reopen Philippines drug war investigation

The court had suspended the investigation in November at Manila’s request, with Philippine officials citing their own investigations into the killings. Governments can ask the ICC to defer a case if they are implementing their own probes and prosecutions for the same acts.

“After a careful and thorough review of all the information provided by the Philippines, as well as other information available publicly … I have concluded that the deferral requested by the Philippines is not warranted, and that the investigation should resume as quickly as possible,” Prosecutor Karim Khan said in a statement.

According to Philippine government data, security forces killed 6,117 drug dealers in sting operations from the time Duterte took office in 2016 until the end of April 2021.

ICC prosecutor suspends probe into Philippines drugs war

Rights groups say authorities have summarily executed drug suspects, but police say drug dealers fought back violently.

Former ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who stepped down last year, had said during her tenure there were reasonable grounds to believe crimes against humanity had been committed during Duterte’s anti-narcotics crackdown, whose death toll has stirred international outrage.

Duterte’s administration had pushed back against rights groups’ claims and the ICC’s investigation, saying the Philippines was no longer a member. Duterte canceled the Philippines’ membership of the ICC’s founding treaty in March 2018.

But under the ICC’s withdrawal mechanism, the court keeps jurisdiction over crimes committed during the membership period of a state — in this case, between 2016 and 2019, when the Philippines’ pullout became official.

Rodrigo Duterte: ICC prosecutor aims to reopen Philippines drug war investigation

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Friday he would seek to reopen an investigation into killings and other suspected rights abuses during former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on drugs.

The court had suspended the investigation in November at Manila’s request, with Philippine officials citing their own investigations into the killings. Governments can ask the ICC to defer a case if they are implementing their own probes and prosecutions for the same acts.

“After a careful and thorough review of all the information provided by the Philippines, as well as other information available publicly … I have concluded that the deferral requested by the Philippines is not warranted, and that the investigation should resume as quickly as possible,” Prosecutor Karim Khan said in a statement.

According to Philippine government data, security forces killed 6,117 drug dealers in sting operations from the time Duterte took office in 2016 until the end of April 2021.

Rights groups say authorities have summarily executed drug suspects, but police say drug dealers fought back violently.

Former ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who stepped down last year, had said during her tenure there were reasonable grounds to believe crimes against humanity had been committed during Duterte’s anti-narcotics crackdown, whose death toll has stirred international outrage.

Duterte’s administration had pushed back against rights groups’ claims and the ICC’s investigation, saying the Philippines was no longer a member. Duterte canceled the Philippines’ membership of the ICC’s founding treaty in March 2018.

But under the ICC’s withdrawal mechanism, the court keeps jurisdiction over crimes committed during the membership period of a state – in this case, between 2016 and 2019, when the Philippines’ pullout became official.

Mexican authorities investigate killing of two Jesuit priests

The third person had sought refuge inside the church in the village of Cerocahui before all three were killed around 6 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET), according to a statement from the Chihuahua state government.

In a statement, the Society of Jesus, the religious order also known as the Jesuits, condemned the killings of the two priests.

It also asked Mexican authorities to recover their bodies, which it said had been removed from the church “by armed individuals,” according to the statement.

In a separate statement, the organization identified the priests as Javier Campos Morales, 79, and Joaquín César Mora Salazar, 80.

The Society also asked for increased protection for the residents of Cerocahui and the wider Sierra Tarahumara region.

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Violent attacks are a problem in the region, which the Society described as under-policed.

Following the killings, Mexico’s National Guard and Ministry of Defense mounted an operation to secure the area, according to authorities.

During his morning press conference on Tuesday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also said that authorities are “looking into the situation.”

“It’s an area with a strong presence of organized crime,” he said. “It appears that there is already some information on those who were possibly responsible for these crimes.”