International Criminal Court to open war crimes cases against Russia but trial looks unlikely

By | March 13, 2023

The New York Times reports:

The International Criminal Court intends to open two war crimes cases tied to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and will seek arrest warrants for several people, according to current and former officials with knowledge of the decision who were not authorized to speak publicly.

The cases represent the first international charges to be brought forward since the start of the conflict and come after months of work by special investigation teams. They allege that Russia abducted Ukrainian children and teenagers and sent them to Russian re-education camps, and that the Kremlin deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure.

The chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, must first present his charges to a panel of pretrial judges who will decide whether the legal standards have been met for issuing arrest warrants, or whether investigators need more evidence.

It was not clear whom the court planned to charge in each case. Asked to confirm the requests for arrest warrants, the prosecutor’s office said, “We do not publicly discuss specifics related to ongoing investigations.”

Some outside diplomats and experts said it was possible that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia could be charged, as the court does not recognize immunity for a head of state in cases involving war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide.

Still, the likelihood of a trial remains slim, experts say, as the court cannot hear cases in absentia and Russia is unlikely to surrender its own officials. [Continue reading…]

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