The ISS will not wait for the end of the war to start trials of war criminals in Ukraine. The prosecutor told how they were gathering evidence

Oksana Kovalenko

The International Criminal Court will not wait for the end of Russiaʼs war against Ukraine to try those who have committed war crimes.

This was announced by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Karim Khan to several journalists in The Hague, answering a question from Babel.

"We will not wait for the end. We will gather evidence. And as soon as they are convincing and reliable enough to be provided to the judges, we will do so. This does not require a cessation of hostilities, "Khan said.

He also assured that no top position can save from responsibility for the committed crimes. He answered the question of how realistic it is that incumbent Russian ministers or even President Putin could stand trial before the International Criminal Court for crimes committed in Ukraine.

Khan said he had no right to name any names, but stressed: "No matter what position a person holds if he has committed a crime that falls under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (falls under the Rome Statute, which is also signed by Ukraine), it will not have any carte blanche. I canʼt talk about specific positions and names — it will be wrong and it will look like empty talk, which will have a bad effect on the victims. "

"Once we have the evidence, they will determine everything. When we have strong evidence [against specific people] sufficient to testify to crimes that meet the requirements of the Rome Statute, we have independent judges to whom we can apply for an arrest warrant. They will decide whether such an order can be issued. And here it should be noted that war crimes have no statute of limitations. We must work for justice to happen as soon as possible. No one has the card to violate the rights of women and children, to destroy churches and mosques, hospitals and schools, to use disproportionate forces against civilian objects. Therefore, it is important that the Rome Statute (under which the ISS operates) protects not European values, but human values," Khan said.

The prosecutor did not specify when the ISS could start the trials. "We are now at the stage where we are trying to find out the truth, to separate the truth from the fiction," Khan said.

However, he noted that his office is trying to do everything to act quickly and more effectively for the sake of the victims. "We are doing this not only for Ukraine, we are trying to do it for victims from other countries," he said.

Khan added that a delegation from the Netherlands is to return from Ukraine one of these days, and a new one will soon go there to gather evidence. He added that in addition to gathering evidence, the tribunal needs to conduct examinations and other work. "There is a lot of evidence, and it is a challenge for us: now there are social networks, telephones, and we need to prevent situations where, as Americans say, we have to drink from a fire hydrant. We need more support and more technology," he said.

Speaking about technology, Khan said that his team in Ukraine uses 3D lasers and 3D maps to capture crime scenes. "Because courts, not just the ICC, may not have access to the crime scene," Khan said.

  • Karim Khan has been the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court since February 2021. Already on March 1, he announced the beginning of the investigation of war crimes of the Russian army in Ukraine, and on March 2 — the beginning of the collection of evidence. Appeals from 39 countries allowed such an investigation to be launched. Khan himself also visited Ukraine, including the city of Bucha near Kyiv in April 2022. In addition, the International Criminal Court is part of a joint investigation team investigating war crimes in Ukraine.