A former United Nations war crimes prosecutor is calling for Vladimir Putin to be arrested by the International Criminal Court for allegedly targeting civilians in Ukraine.
Swiss lawyer Carla Del Ponte, who investigated war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, called on the ICC to “go up the chain of command,” Fox News reported.
Calls for Putin’s arrest
In interviews with Swiss newspapers to promote a new book, Del Ponte compared the Russian dictator to the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, who was charged by the U.N. with the ethnic cleansing of non-Serbs in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo during the Yugoslav Wars.
Del Ponte said that the reported use of mass graves in Ukraine hearkens back to the bloodshed in the former Yugoslavia.
“I hoped never to see mass graves again,” she told the newspaper Blick. “These dead people have loved ones who don’t even know what’s become of them. That is unacceptable.”
Milosevic was the first head of state to be charged by the U.N. with war crimes when he was indicted in 1999 during the controversial NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. He was extradited under Western pressure to the Hague in 2001, where he later died while on trial.
It is difficult to see how Putin could face arrest without regime change in nuclear-armed Russia, which is something the U.S. officially denies pursuing. But Del Ponte argued that the West should pursue Putin regardless, stating, “When the investigation into Slobodan Milosevic began, he was still president of Serbia. Who would have thought then that he would one day be judged? Nobody.”
If there is evidence of Russia perpetuating war crimes, she added, the ICC should “go up the chain of command until you reach those who took the decisions.”
Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of genocide, a term President Biden has avoided using, although he has repeatedly called Putin a war criminal.
Biden called for Putin to face trial Monday after graphic accounts emerged of Russian forces murdering Ukrainians in the suburbs of Kyiv. Russia has claimed the attacks were staged.
“This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone’s seen it.”
For her part, Del Ponte said that Ukraine should also be probed over the alleged torture and mutilation of Russian prisoners of war by Ukrainian forces.