GENEVA (AP) — The former chief prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda has called for an international arrest warrant to be issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Putin is a war criminal,” Carla Del Ponte told Swiss newspaper Le Temps in an interview published on Saturday.
In interviews with Swiss media on the occasion of the release of her latest book, the Swiss lawyer who oversaw UN investigations in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia said there were clearly war crimes committed in Ukraine.
She said she was particularly shocked by the use of mass graves in Russia’s war against Ukraine, reminiscent of the worst of the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
“I hoped never to see mass graves again,” she told the Blick newspaper. “These dead have relatives who do not even know what has become of them. This is unacceptable.
Other war crimes she identified in Ukraine included attacks on civilians, the destruction of civilian buildings and even the demolition of entire villages.
She said the investigation in Ukraine would be easier than that in Yugoslavia because the country itself had requested an international investigation. The current ICC chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, visited Ukraine last month.
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If the ICC finds evidence of war crimes, she said, “you have to work your way up the chain of command until you get to those who made the decisions.”
She said it would even be possible to hold Putin to account.
“We must not let go, continue the investigation. 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,” she told Blick.
Del Ponte added that investigations should be carried out into possible war crimes committed by both sides, also pointing to reports of alleged torture of some Russian POWs by Ukrainian forces.