French justice is interested in the death of Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff.

The National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor's Office (Pnat) announced on Monday the opening of a war crimes investigation after the death of this BFMTV journalist killed in eastern Ukraine while accompanying civilians on board a humanitarian bus near Severodonetsk.

The flagrancy investigation entrusted to the Central Office for the Fight against Crimes against Humanity, Genocide and War Crimes (OCLCH) also relates to "the injuries suffered by his colleague Maxime Brandstaetter", present with him during the report, said the Pnat.

At least eight journalists killed on the ground in Ukraine

"The investigation is open on counts of intentional attacks on the life of a person protected by the international law of armed conflict, deliberate attacks against persons not taking direct part in the conflicts and deliberate attacks against personnel and vehicles employed within the framework of a humanitarian aid mission”, detailed the anti-terrorist prosecution.

Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, 32, was fatally hit by "shrapnel while he was following a humanitarian operation", said BFMTV, shortly after the announcement of the journalist's death on Twitter by Emmanuel Macron .

He was "killed by a Russian bombardment on a humanitarian operation while exercising his duty to inform", tweeted Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, condemning a "double crime which targets a humanitarian convoy and a journalist" .

Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24, at least eight journalists have died in the field in the exercise of their profession, according to a report by Reporters Without Borders.

Other Pnat investigations in Ukraine

At least five other investigations for acts committed against French nationals in Ukraine have been opened since the start of the war by the crimes against humanity and war crimes unit of the Pnat.

A first was opened after the death of the Franco-Irish journalist Pierre Zakrzewski on March 14 in Horenka, near kyiv.

Then three others were opened for acts committed in Mariupol between February 25 and March 16, in Gostomel (kyiv region) between March 1 and 12 and Cherniguiv (north) since February 24.

A fifth investigation concerns a Frenchman injured in Borodianka and Velykyi Lis, near kyiv between March 26 and April 7.

French justice can only open an investigation for acts committed outside French territory if a victim is French, if the author of the alleged war crime is French or if the author of the offense has his habitual residence on the French soil.


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