VLADIMIR Putin is facing a Nuremberg-style day of reckoning like the Nazis after a warrant was issued for his arrest over alleged war crimes, legal experts have said.
The tyrant has been indicted by the International Criminal Court and could be nabbed and hauled into the dock if he steps outside his homeland.
Some 123 countries who are part of the court are now obliged to hand him over.
The ICC has accused Putin and of the “unlawful deportation” of children from Ukraine – a war crime under the Geneva Convention.
The court also issued a warrant for the arrest of Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, on similar allegations to Putin.
The trials that took place of the Nazi leaders in the city of Nuremberg after the Second World War laid the foundations for ICC, which is based in the Hague, in the Netherlands.
At Nuremberg, Adolf Hitler’s henchmen faced charges of crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity, for starting the war and the Holocaust.
Many were hanged but the maximum sentence the ICC can now impose is life imprisonment.
Dr Miracle Chinwenmeri Uche, from the University of Exeter Law School, told The Sun Online: “The Nuremberg trials come to mind at a time like this.”
She said it was “a reminder that alleged perpetrators who occupy powerful positions are not immune from accountability”.
“The relevance of the Nuremberg trials to the current Ukraine situation before the ICC as it relates to Mr Putin can be considered in two-fold.
“Firstly, the foundations of the work done by the ICC and other international criminal tribunals can be traced to the Nuremberg trials.
“Secondly, in relation to the principle of individual criminal responsibility – a very important concept arising out of the Nuremberg trials.
“Mr Putin and other alleged perpetrators may therefore be held individually responsible for crimes committed in the context of the war in accordance with the law no matter how long this may take.
“Therefore, one can foresee similar trials in so far as it relates to established international criminal law be it in the Hague, or elsewhere in the world.”
Regime leaders and key figures hauled before international courts
Vladimir Putin is not the first dictator to be accused of war crimes by international courts.
- Slobodan Milosevic – former president of Serbia
The International Criminal Tribunal for Yogoslavia charged Milošević with genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.
He was the first sitting head of state to be charged with war crimes but died in custody before he was tried.
- Ratko Mladic – former Serbian army commander
Mladic – dubbed the “Butcher of Bosnia” – was found guilty of genocide and jailed for life by the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia in 2017.
He was blamed for the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II during the country’s 1990s conflict.
He faced 11 charges including genocide and crimes against humanity.
The UN court found him guilty on 10 counts including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, acquitting him of genocide in the municipalities.
- Charles Taylor – former president of Liberia
Taylor was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity as a result of his involvement in the Sierra Leone Civil War from 1991 – 2002.
On April 26, 2012, Taylor was found guilty on all 11 counts of bearing responsibility for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by rebel forces during the war.
He was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Getting Putin into the dock in the first place may seem a stretch explained as the court has no power to enforce the arrest warrant, leaving it up to individual states, explained Dr Uche.
“This is not an easy task in relation to cases arising out of self-referrals of situations by states themselves to the ICC.
“It is even more challenging when dealing with situations where alleged perpetrators are sitting presidents.”
But she added: “Cooperation on the execution of the arrest warrant against Mr Putin and Ms Lvova-Belova must not be ruled out.”
The ICC has pointed out that all countries who recognise the court are obliged to hand over Putin on their soil.
“All state parties have the legal obligation to cooperate fully with the court, which means that they’re obliged to execute arrest warrants issued by the court,” said ICC President Judge Piotr Hofmanski.
“And it is indeed one of the most important effects of the arrest warrants, that is a kind of sanction, because the person cannot leave the country.
“There are 123 states, two-thirds of the states of the world in which he will not be saved.”
Ukrainian General Prosecutor, Andriy Kostin, called on countries to act.
“The world has received a signal that the Russian regime is criminal and that its leadership and accomplices will be brought to justice,” he said.
“This means that Putin must be arrested outside of Russia and brought to trial.
“And world leaders will think twice before shaking his hand or sitting down with him at the negotiating table.”
International Criminal Court convictions
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has convicted four individuals of war crimes so far. They are:
- Thomas Lubanga Dyilo – Democratic Republic of the Congo
Lubanga was convicted in 2012 of enlisting and conscripting child soldiers under the age of 15 and using them to participate actively in hostilities in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
- Germain Katanga – Democratic Republic of the Congo
Katanga was convicted in 2014 of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in an attack on a village in the Ituri region of the DRC in 2003 that left over 200 people dead.
He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
- Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi – Mali
Al Mahdi was convicted in 2016 of war crimes for his role in the destruction of cultural heritage sites in Timbuktu, Mali, during the armed conflict in the country in 2012 and 2013.
He was sentenced to seven years in prison.
- Bosco Ntaganda – Democratic Republic of the Congo
Ntaganda was convicted in 2019 of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role as a military commander in the eastern DRC from 2002 to 2003.
He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
It’s worth noting that the ICC has opened investigations into other cases of war crimes and is currently conducting ongoing trials for several other individuals.
Almost as soon as Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, attention began to turn to how he might face justice for unleashing his savage war.
A model for what an indictment might look like was published by the legal advocacy group Open Society Justice Initiative.
The last surviving prosecutor Ben Ferencz from Nuremberg backed the idea.
“I know first-hand of the magnitude of efforts required to put war criminals on trial,” he wrote at the time.
“I put 22 Nazi officers on the stand for their role in killing more than a million men, women and children in cold blood in towns and villages across Eastern Europe.
“Russia’s unprovoked military attack on Ukraine is the clearest and most egregious instance of the crime of aggression in decades.
“Building a solid case against President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian officials is feasible.”
Mass graves of civilians killed by Russian forces[/caption]