October 29, 2008
The BBC has discovered evidence that Georgia may have committed war crimes in its attack on its breakaway region of South Ossetia in August.
Eyewitnesses have described how its tanks fired directly into an apartment block, and how civilians were shot at as they tried to escape the fighting.
Research by the international investigative organisation Human Rights Watch also points to indiscriminate use of force by the Georgian military, and the possible deliberate targeting of civilians.
Indiscriminate use of force is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and serious violations are considered to be war crimes.
The allegations are now raising concerns among Georgia’s supporters in the West.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has told the BBC the attack on South Ossetia was “reckless”.
He said he had raised the issue of possible Georgian war crimes with the government in Tbilisi.
The evidence was gathered by the BBC on the first unrestricted visit to South Ossetia by a foreign news organisation since the conflict.
Georgia’s attempt to re-conquer the territory triggered a Russian invasion and the most serious crisis in relations between the Kremlin and the West since the Cold War.