The Russian Investigative Committee – equivalent to a prosecutor’s office – charged ‘in absentia’ the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khanand one of the court magistrates in response to the “illegal arrest warrant” against Russian President Vladimir Putin accused by court of facilitating the forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russian territory.
“The investigation has already compiled the necessary evidence and that is why the decision has been made to charge Khan and the CPI judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala ‘in absentia’,” the prosecutor’s office explained in a statement collected by the news agency TASS.
Specifically, Part 2 of Article 299, Part 1 of Article 30 and Part 2 of Article 360 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation are cited for Khan: imputing criminal responsibility to an innocent person and preparing an attack against a representative of a Foreign state that enjoys international protection to hinder international relations.
As for Aitala, he is charged with Article 301 Part 2, Article 30 Part 1 and Article 360 Part 2 of the Russian Criminal Code: detention knowing its illegality and preparing an attack against a representative of a foreign state that enjoys international protection to hinder international relations. Both Khan and Aitala thus go on the list of people with an arrest warrant in Russia.
On March 17, the ICC issued an arrest warrant against Putin and the Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova.because it considers that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that Putin “has individual criminal responsibility” for the transfer of Ukrainian minors to Russian territory, either for its “direct” commission or for having been unable to “exercise adequate control over subordinates civilians and military who committed the acts”.
The Kremlin has consistently denied that it is forcibly deporting Ukrainian children in the face of accusations made by kyiv and its allies. According to the Ukrainian government at least 16,000 children have ended up displaced against their will to Russian territory since the beginning of the conflict while a recent study presented in February by Yale University denounced at least 6,000 Ukrainian children distributed among 40 Russian boarding schools.
The arrest warrants represent the first international charges filed since the start of the conflict and come after months of work by a special investigative team under the ICC’s chief prosecutor. For its issuance it has been necessary for a preliminary panel of judges to accept the validity of the evidence presented.
The possibility that the ICC ends up prosecuting Putin is practically nil for several reasons: the court cannot hear cases ‘in absentia’ of the defendant, Russia withdrew in 2016 from the Rome Statute that serves as the legal foundation for the court, and the Kremlin has no intention of handing over any Russian officials to the court , as it has already reiterated on numerous occasions.
However, after the orders against Putin and his official, Khan defended the real possibility that the Russian could face trial for war crimes committed in Ukraine.
“Those who believe it is impossible” for the Russian leader to be held accountable for the acts committed in Ukraine “do not understand history,” said the prosecutor, now the target of Russian persecution.
The prosecutor cited as examples the nuremberg trials (1954-1946) -for war crimes in Nazi Germany- and the judicial process for the rwandan genocide. “They all implicated powerful and imposing individuals and yet ended up in courtKhan added.
On the other hand, the ICC warned this Saturday that will not be intimidated by Russia after placing the prosecutor Karim Khan on a wanted list.
“The ICC considers these measures to be unacceptable. The court will not be intimidated in carrying out its legal mandate to ensure accountability for the most serious crimes,” the Hague-based court said in a statement.
(With information from Europa Press)
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