Will Vladimir Putin be able to stand trial for war crimes?


Although the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, this is only the first step in a very long process.

The United Nations clearly believes that there is sufficient evidence to accuse the Russian leader of committing war crimes in Ukraine.

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However, the practical and logistical problems to carry the case forward are immense.

Here we answer some of the questions that arise about the possibility of bringing Putin to justice.

Can President Putin be arrested?

At present, the Russian leader enjoys undisputed power in his homeland, so there is no prospect of the Kremlin handing him over to the ICC.

While Putin stay in Russia, you are not at risk of being arrested.

Putin could be arrested if he leaves the country. But, since his freedom of movement is already severely limited by international sanctions against him, it is unlikely that he would travel to a country that wants to prosecute him.

How likely is it that Putin ends up in the dock? (GETTY IMAGES)

Since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February 2022, he has only visited eight countries. Seven of them would be considered by him to be part of Russia’s “near abroad”, that is, they were constituent parts of the Soviet Union before it collapsed at the end of 1991.

The only recent destination that does not fall into this category is Iran, which he visited in July of last year to meet with the theocracy’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.

Given that Iran has aided the Russian war effort by supplying drones and other military equipment, a repeat visit to Tehran is unlikely to put Putin in any danger.

Will Putin really face trial?

There are at least two major obstacles to this. First, Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC.

The court was established in 2002 by a treaty known as the Rome Statute.

This statute establishes that it is the duty of every state to exercise its own criminal jurisdiction over those responsible for international crimes.

Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC.  (GETTY IMAGES)

Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC. (GETTY IMAGES)

The ICC can only intervene when a state is unable or unwilling to carry out the investigation and prosecute the perpetrators.

In total, 123 states agreed to comply, but there are some notable exceptions, such as Russia (and also the United States).

Some countries, including Ukraine, have signed the treaty but have not ratified it.

Therefore, the legal position is not very firm.

And second, while it is not uncommon for trials to take place without the defendant in the dock, that is not an option at the ICC.

this court does not conduct trials in absentiaso that route is also closed.

Who else has faced this kind of judgment?

The idea of ​​trying people for crimes against humanity predates the existence of the ICC.

It began in 1945 after World War II with the nuremberg trials, which were carried out to punish key members of the hierarchy in Nazi Germany for the Holocaust and other atrocities.

The idea of ​​trying people for crimes against humanity began in 1945 with the Nuremberg Trials, which were held to punish key members of the hierarchy in Nazi Germany. (GETTY IMAGES)

The idea of ​​trying people for crimes against humanity began in 1945 with the Nuremberg Trials, which were held to punish key members of the hierarchy in Nazi Germany. (GETTY IMAGES)

Among them was Adolf Hitler’s lieutenant, Rudolf Hesswho was sentenced to life in prison and died by his own hand in 1987.

Putin has not actually been charged with crimes against humanity, despite US Vice President Kamala Harris arguing that he should be.

And if it were, that would pose another legal dilemma, as the UN itself says, since “crimes against humanity have not yet been codified in a special treaty of international law, unlike genocide and war crimes.” although there are efforts to do so.

Other bodies have tried to convict those accused of war crimes. That includes the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, a UN organization that existed from 1993 to 2017.

In that period, he convicted and sentenced 90 people. But the most notorious of the defendants, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, died of a heart attack in 2006 while in custody.

As for the ICC itself, so far it has accused 40 people besides Putin, all from African countries. Of these, 17 people have been arrested in The Hague, 10 have been convicted of crimes and four have been acquitted.

What does this mean for the war in Ukraine?

The arrest warrant is considered a international community sign that what is happening in Ukraine is against international law.

The court says that the reason it is issuing these arrest warrants is that these crimes continue. By doing so, you are trying to prevent further crime from being committed.

Destroyed building in Kyiv. (GETTY IMAGES)

Destroyed building in Kyiv. (GETTY IMAGES)

But Russia’s main reaction so far has been to dismiss the injunctions as meaningless.

In fact, the Kremlin denies that its forces committed atrocities in Ukraine, and Putin’s spokesman called the ICC decision “outrageous and unacceptable.”

Faced with such a challenge, it seems unlikely that the ICC’s actions will have any impact on Russia’s war in Ukraine, and Putin’s “special military operation” will continue without mercy.

Source: Elcomercio


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