Dublin inquest to be held into killing of Irish cameraman in Ukraine

Gardaí liaising with French war crimes investigation into Pierre Zakrzewski’s death

The Dublin coroner will hold an inquest into the death of Franco-Irish photojournalist Pierre Zakrzewski, who was killed in Ukraine last week.

An Garda Síochána has said it was liaising with the French authorities who have opened an investigation into possible war crimes in the death of Mr Zakrzewski.

The 55-year-old veteran war reporter was killed during Russian shelling in Ukraine on March 14th while covering the conflict for the US television network Fox News.

He died alongside Ukrainian journalist and producer Oleksandra Kuvshynova outside Kyiv. The vehicle they were travelling in with reporter Benjamin Hall was struck during the Russian attack. Mr Hall was severely injured and hospitalised.

The body of Mr Zakrzewski, who is originally from Leopardstown in south Dublin and whose mother is French, was returned to Ireland on Sunday.

His remains were brought to the Dublin city morgue where a postmortem was due to be carried out.

In a statement, the Zakrzewski family thanked "all those involved in getting Pierre home to us so quickly and in such difficult circumstances," including the security teams in Kyiv, Irish and French embassy staff in Ukraine and Poland and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“We have been touched by all the stories and memories, and have been comforted by the difference that he made to so many people around the world,” the family said.

“He touched so many people’s lives, he will never be forgotten and his legacy will live on.”

The family said they were now taking the time to plan his funeral arrangements and “give Pierre the send off that he deserves”.

The investigation by France’s specialised anti-terror prosecutors into his death is examining possible charges of causing “deliberate harm to a person protected by international law” and a “deliberate attack against a civilian who was not taking part in hostilities”.

Gardaí will share any information that might be significant to the French investigation arising from the postmortem.

The Dublin District Coroner’s Office confirmed that Mr Zakrzewski’s death was “the subject of coroner’s inquiry in this jurisdiction”.

“The coroner will be assisted by An Garda Síochána in relation to the gathering of relevant evidence and an inquest will be held in due course in accordance with the law,” said a spokeswoman.

Witnesses

The coroner may seek to hear evidence from people who witnessed his killing or who were in Ukraine at the time, either from direct testimony in person or via statements.

It is not unusual for Irish coroners to hold inquests into the deaths of Irish citizens abroad in unnatural circumstances, though it can be difficult to get statements from individuals abroad.

The Dublin corner held inquests into the deaths of three victims who drowned in the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2009 shooting of Irish man Michael Dwyer in Bolivia.

“Bodies that are repatriated to Ireland are all reported to the coroner’s office and sometimes there may be issues arising abroad and there may be issues with investigations abroad,” said a source.

“The jurisdiction is based not on where the death occurred but where the remains lie.”

Born in August 1966, Mr Zakrzewski was the second-eldest of six children: four boys and two girls. He attended St Conleth's College in Ballsbridge and studied at University College Dublin for a time.

His grandfather, a gynaecologist in the Polish army, fled Poland at the start of the second World War, eventually ending up in Scotland after a two-year journey across Europe. The travels continued with Pierre’s father studying architecture at UCD and settling in Dublin.

Fox News described Mr Zakrzewski as an "absolute legend" who had covered several wars including in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times

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