France Launches War Crime Investigation After Reporter Arman Soldin Killed in Ukraine


The French judiciary has launched a war crime investigation into the death of AFP reporter Arman Soldin who was killed in Ukraine, anti-terror prosecutors said Wednesday.

Soldin, 32, died when he and his AFP colleagues came under fire by Grad rockets on Tuesday while they were with Ukrainian troops near Chasiv Yar, in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. According to the AFP, other reporters with Soldin were not injured in the attack. 

The French probe will be handled by the OCLCH, an investigating unit specializing in crimes against humanity and hate crimes, and will seek to determine the exact circumstances of Soldin’s death, the prosecutors said.

His death brings to at least 11 the number of journalists, fixers or drivers for media teams killed since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago, according to advocacy groups.

This is the 7th investigation for war crimes in Ukraine involving French nationals since Feb 2022, CBS News’ Elaine Cobbe reports. Two of them relate to attacks on journalists. 

Soldin was a French national born in Sarajevo who began working for the AFP in 2015, first as an intern in the agency’s Rome bureau before being hired in London. He was one of the first AFP journalists to be sent to Ukraine after Russia invaded the country in Feb. 2022. He had been living in Ukraine since Sept. 2022 and traveled regularly to the war’s front lines. 

The day before he died, Soldin tweeted a video of doctors in Ukraine working to stabilize an injured soldier. Other videos shared by Soldin show him on the front lines in the city of Bakhmut while it faced heavy shelling and reporting on the explosion of a vital bridge in the city. 

A week ago, an animal rescue group praised Soldin and his team for helping rescue an injured hedgehog. Soldin and his team reportedly cared for the animal before setting it free. In a thread, Soldin described the animal’s story as “unusually cute” and said that the hedgehog had been found in Chasiv Yar, which he called the “worst place possible.” That area is where Soldin would later be killed.  

Colleagues and officials have memorialized Soldin. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that the administration’s “hearts go out” to Soldin’s family and loved ones. French president Emmanuel Macron said that Soldin worked to “establish the facts” and inform the public of the war, adding that the country shares “the pain of his loved ones and all his colleagues.” 

AFP photojournalist Daniel Leal shared a photo of himself and Soldin on Twitter, writing “Forever remembered. Forever loved.” 

“The whole agency is devastated by the loss of Arman,” AFP chairman Fabrice Fries said on Tuesday. “His death is a terrible reminder of the risks and dangers faced by journalists every day covering the conflict in Ukraine.”

Source : CBS News