Moscow has issued an arrest warrant for an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor who himself issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges, Russian media reported Friday. Karim Khan, the prosecutor at the Hague war crimes tribunal, has been added to the Russian Interior Ministry’s wanted list, Russia’s state news agency TASS reported.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said in March that Khan was being investigated for “the criminal prosecution of a known innocent person” — referring to war crime allegations against Putin. The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court was also investigated for preparing “an attack on a representative of a foreign country enjoying international protection”, Russian investigators said at the time.
The member states of the International Criminal Court said on Saturday that they were “deeply concerned” by Russia’s decision.
The presidency of the Assembly of States Members of the International Criminal Court, the body that oversees the court’s administration, said in a statement that it “regrets the acts of intimidation and unacceptable attempts to undermine the mandate of the International Criminal Court to investigate, impose sanctions and prevent the commission of the most serious international crimes.” .
In a separate statement, the court said the measures were “unacceptable” and that it would “remain fearless in carrying out its legal mandate to ensure accountability for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole”.
In its statement, Russian authorities described Khan as a man born on March 30, 1970 in Edinburgh, Scotland, but did not specify his alleged crime. Russia opened the criminal investigation into Khan after the ICC announced an arrest warrant for Putin on charges he committed war crimes in the illegal deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.
In announcing the arrest warrants in March, the regional court said there were “reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears personal criminal responsibility” for the kidnapping of the Ukrainian children, and “for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and through others as well as for his failure to control the civilian and military subordinates who carried out the the deeds”.
The court was later forced to issue a calming notice after former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to hit the war crimes court in The Hague with hypersonic missiles. Earlier this month, Kremlin spokesman 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, said the order was “null and void”.
Kyiv claimed that more than 19,000 Ukrainian children had been deported to Russia since the start of the invasion in February 2022, with more than 4,000 orphans. Many are allegedly in institutions and foster homes.