Moscow has issued an arrest warrant for the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor who in March prepared a warrant for the arrest of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges, Russian media reported on Friday.
Karim Khan, the prosecutor at the Hague-based war crimes court, was added to the Interior Ministry’s wanted list, Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reported on Friday, citing the ministry’s database.
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A picture of the ICC prosecutor, who is a citizen of the United Kingdom, could be seen in the Russian interior ministry’s database on Friday, according to news reports.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, which handles major crimes, said in March that Khan was being probed for the “criminal prosecution of a person known to be innocent” – in reference to the war crime charges against Putin.
The ICC prosecutor was also being investigated for allegedly preparing “an attack on a representative of a foreign state enjoying international protection”, Russian investigators said at the time.
The ICC member states on Saturday said they were “deeply concerned” by Russia’s decision.
The Presidency of the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC, the court’s management oversight body, said in a statement it “regrets these acts of intimidation and unacceptable attempts to undermine the mandate of the International Criminal Court to investigate, sanction and prevent the commission of the gravest international crimes.”
In a separate statement, the court said the measures were “unacceptable” and that it “will remain undeterred in the conduct of its lawful mandate to ensure accountability for the gravest crimes of concern to the international community as a whole.”
The wanted notice described Khan as a man born on March 30, 1970 in Edinburgh, Scotland but did not specify his alleged offence.
Russia opened the criminal probe into Khan after the ICC announced an arrest warrant had been issued for Putin over accusations he had committed war crimes by unlawfully deporting thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.
Announcing the arrest warrants in March, the ICC said there were “reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the abductions of Ukrainian children, and “for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others (and) for his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts”.
The ICC was later forced to issue a statement of concern after former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to hit the war crimes court in The Hague with hypersonic missiles. Earlier this month, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called the ICC “a puppet in the hands of the so-called collective West”, the Moscow Times reported.
Russia, which is not a member of the ICC, has said the warrant is “void”.
UN official criticised
The international court also issued an arrest warrant against Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights.
Kyiv says more than 19,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia since the beginning of Moscow’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, with more than 4,000 believed to be orphans. Many are allegedly placed in institutions and foster homes.
Rights groups and the top US justice envoy on Saturday criticised a meeting between Virginia Gamba, the special representative of the UN secretary-general for children, and Lvova-Belova.
Russia’s ombudsman for children’s rights said on her website on Friday that she held a working meeting with the top UN official. “The conversation turned out to be constructive and sincere – without politics,” she said. “After all, we are united by a sense of personal responsibility for the life and safety of children.”
Balkees Jarrah, associate director in the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, said “Ukrainian victims deserve to see Lvova-Belova behind bars in The Hague, not meeting with high-level UN officials.”
US Ambassador for Global Justice Beth van Schaack said on social media Friday night that such a meeting would be “deeply concerning.”