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Elected leaders told me ICC was built for Africa and thugs, says chief prosecutor

Elected leaders told me ICC was built for Africa and thugs, says chief prosecutor
May 21
12:09 2024

Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), says some elected leaders told him that the ICC was built for Africa and “thugs like Vladimir Putin”, the Russian president.

The ICC is the first and only permanent international court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and aggression.

The court’s member states are obliged to immediately arrest the wanted person if on their territory.

Israel and the US, the Jewish nation’s biggest ally, are not members of the ICC.


Khan did not specify which elected leader or leaders he was referring to, but expressed his disapproval at apparent threats from the US over the ICC’s intention to seek arrest warrants against Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel.

The ICC is also asking for an arrest warrant for Yoav Gallant, Israeli defence minister. Both men have been accused of war crimes.

The court’s decision to prosecute Israeli authorities has been met with ire from Israel and the US.


“Target Israel and we will target you. If you move forward with the measures indicated in the report, we will move to end all American support for the ICC, sanction your employees and associates, and bar you and your families from the United States,” a letter signed by some senators reads.

“You have been warned.”

US President Joe Biden had also described the allegations against Israel as “outrageous”.

“Let me be clear, we reject the ICC’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders,” Biden said at a Jewish American Heritage Month event at the White House on Monday.


“There is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas.”


In a CNN interview on Monday, Khan described the letter as a threat, maintaining that the ICC’s values are synonymous with American beliefs.

“And, of course, I’ve had some elected leaders speak to me and be very blunt. ‘This court is built for Africa and for thugs like Putin,’ was what one senior leader told me,” Khan said, adding that “we don’t view it like that”.


“We are not going to be swayed by the different types of threats, some of which are public and some maybe are not,” he added.

The ICC is also seeking warrants for three Hamas chiefs — Yahya Sinwar, leader of the Palestinian militant group; Mohammed Al-Masri, leader of the Al Qassem Brigades; and Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ political leader.


Charges against the Hamas leaders include “extermination, murder, taking of hostages, rape and sexual assault in detention”.

Netanyahu and Gallant are being charged for “causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies, deliberately targeting civilians in conflict”.


All charges are in relation to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Israel is also facing a separate charge of alleged genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as brought forward by South Africa.


Biden said Israel is not committing genocide in Gaza.

“Contrary to allegations against Israel made by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), what’s happening in Gaza is not genocide. We reject that,” Biden added.

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