Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), announced Monday that he is opening a preliminary examination to determine whether North Korea committed war crimes by its November 23 shelling of South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island or its alleged sinking of the South Korean warship, the Cheonan, on March 26. Four persons were killed as a result of the shelling and 46 lost their lives as a result of the sinking of the Cheonan.
Although North Korea is not a party to the ICC statute, South Korea is. The ICC's Statute gives it jurisdiction over war crimes committed on the territory of a State Party, such as South Korea. (Ships flying the flag of a State are normally considered part of that State's territory.) If the prosecutor decides that he has sufficient evidence to open a formal investigation, he must present that preliminary evidence to and receive the approval of a trial chamber of judges before proceeding with a formal investigation.