Ukraine could extradite Russian war crimes suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC) even though Moscow is not a member, the tribunal’s prosecutor said on Thursday.
Kyiv authorities could send Russians to the Hague-based court if trials could not take place in Ukraine for legal reasons, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan said.
Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, refused to join the ICC when the court was set up in 2002 to try people for offences including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
“Legally yes it wouldn’t represent an obstacle to our jurisdiction,” Khan told a press conference at the headquarters of the EU’s judicial agency, Eurojust.
“Certainly if there was a need… and there was a reason why those trials could not take place in Ukraine, whether it’s because of some legal additional provisions that we have or not, I am sure that we would get the cooperation from Ukraine,” he added.
The ICC opened its own probe into the war in Ukraine shortly after Russia invaded, but has said it is keen for Ukraine to bring suspects to justice where possible.
Khan would not say when the ICC expects to file its own first charges, saying he would wait until the “evidence is sufficient.”
“We are moving forward, we have focus, but I will make announcements at the right time,” he said.
Kyiv has already convicted 10 people over crimes committed during Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin told the news conference.
It has indicted a total of 186 people, mostly in absentia, and filed court papers for 45 people.
Ukraine will meanwhile file war crimes charges over Russia’s bombardment of Kyiv and other cities this week, said Kostin.
“All of the hits of every missile, every drone, every damage of civil infrastructure, every Ukrainian who was killed or wounded by these missile attacks, all of them are documented and criminal proceedings were opened,” he said.
Ukraine’s allies have pledged more powerful air defense systems after days of devastating Russian attacks that President Vladimir Putin said were retaliation for a deadly explosion at a Crimean bridge.
Several Western leaders have described the Russian strikes as a war crime.
Romania meanwhile said it had joined an international investigation team probing war crimes along with Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia, along with Eurojust and the ICC.