ICC prosecutor unfazed by intimidation amid Ukraine, Gaza war crime probes

The International Criminal Court prosecutor said Tuesday he will not be intimidated by threats as his office probes possible war crimes in Ukraine and Gaza.

During a UN Security Council meeting on his probe into war crimes in Libya, prosecutor Karim Khan was challenged by the ambassadors of Russia and Libya, who criticized what they called his inaction as Israel wages war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“One wonders if the effectiveness of the ICC on this track is affected by the fact that a new bipartisan bill has been submitted to the US Congress to sanction ICC officials involved in investigating not only the US but also its allies,” said the Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzia.

Nebenzia was alluding to news reports that a bill to this end has been submitted to the US Congress.

Khan responded by citing what he said were threats against him and his office to make him halt his probes.

“We will not be swayed, whether it’s by warrants for my arrest or the arrest of elected officials of the court by the Russian Federation, or whether it’s by other elected officials in any other jurisdiction,” Khan said.

In May of last year Russia put Kahn on its list of wanted persons after the court issued an arrest warrant against President Vladimir Putin for his role in the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia as part of the war.

In early May Kahn’s office said on X that the court’s “independence and impartiality are undermined, however, when individuals threaten to retaliate against the court or against court personnel.”

It did not say where the threats are coming from.

“Such threats, even not acted upon, may constitute an offence” against the ICC’s “administration of justice,” the office warned, calling for an end to such activity.

The court made this comment after US and Israeli media reports which suggested the ICC prosecutor could issue warrants against Israeli politicians including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leaders.

“We have a duty to stand up for justice, to stand up for victims,” Kahn said Tuesday.

“And I am fully cognizant that there are Goliaths in this room. There are Goliaths with power, with influence” he said.

He added: “We have something called the law. All I can do is say that we will stand up to the best of our ability. We will stand up by the law with integrity with independence.”

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