Glenn Kolomeitz is a veteran of Afghanistan and East Timor, a former New South Wales Police investigator and spent more than a decade as a lawyer defending veterans’ rights.
- Australian veteran Glenn Kolomeitz has been appointed as a war crime investigator in Ukraine
- He will work for a foundation contracted to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine
- He will focus on Russian command responsibility and targeting of civilians
Now he’s preparing to take on his greatest challenge as a Ukraine war crimes investigator.
Mr Kolomeitz has been hired by a United Kingdom-based foundation contracted to the Prosecutor General of the Ukraine and will be based in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.
Working as senior war crime prosecutor, he will help respond to 20,000 outstanding allegations after Russia’s invasion of the country.
“There are a lot of lawyers there who have studied international law, but they wanted that ex-military, boots-on-the-ground experience and the policing experience, the ability to work in high intensity crime scenes,” Mr Kolomeitz said.
Leading the organisation’s mobile justice team, Mr Kolomeitz said his effort was an extension of the support already provided by Australia.
“The Ukraine counter offensive has been amazing,” he said.
“The Russians are really bogged down in this conflict, while the Ukrainian forces are very mobile thanks in part to the Australian provision of Bushmasters, our 155mm howitzers and our Javelin anti-armour weapons.”
Multiple areas of investigation
The war crime investigations will focus on several areas including command responsibility, indiscriminate targeting of civilians and infrastructure, use of sexual violence, forced transfers of people into Russia and genocide.
He said international media coverage of the discoveries of mass graves were correct.
“We are seeing some very accurate reporting in that space,” he said.
“The mass graves, that is exactly what we are seeing, we are seeing hundreds of bodies and we’re seeing evidence of torture on these on these bodies. It is horrendous, and it seems to be systemic.
“That then goes to the issue of command responsibility, the Kremlin cannot but know about this, right down that chain of command.
“Russians don’t have a non-commissioned officer corps, all of their people are led by officers, so all of their officers in these units are in the frame.”
With reports of sexual violence used against women ranging in age from 13 to 82 years old, Mr Kolomeitz said special attention would be given to caring for victim survivors.
“There are protocols in place internationally and that goes into the protection of the witnesses, the victim survivors. We have to make sure their wellbeing is catered to,” he said.
If Ukraine’s Prosecutor General takes up any of the cases Mr Kolomeitz puts forward, they could be dealt with in local courts.
Those dealing with command responsibility will go to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In September, based on its investigations into events in the regions of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy, the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry found war crimes had been committed in Ukraine.
crime scene investigation
Mr Kolomeitz will also use his experience as a police officer and crime scene equipment operator to help train Ukrainian investigators.
“One tool, it’s an angle protractor, which allows me to measure the angle of impact of a missile tail to then be able to trace the trajectory of that missile back to its point of departure,” he said.
“Then link that — it’s called linkage analysis — to the Russian unit, link the Russian unit to the Russian commanders and there is our brief.”
Mr Kolomeitz said the greatest challenge over the next six months would be waiting for judicial prosecutions to start.
“These prosecutions may take years, so I’ll put together these briefs, but I want to see the end product, I want to see the Russian chain of command in the dock,” he said.
“Whether it be in Kyiv or the ICC, I want to see people held to account.”