Prosecutor General: Genuine reasons to charge Putin with war crimes
Charging Russian leader Vladimir Putin with war crimes is not without grounds, Prosecutor General Andres Parmas says.
Speaking to ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade", Parmas said: "All the indicators show that there would be reasons to bring criminal proceedings against him."
As to presenter Marko Reikop's question on how realistic it is to expect Vladimir Putin ever to face charges of being a war criminal, Pärmas said: "When considering how powerful and large of a state Russia is, and that we have to deal with the leaders of such a state, then in the current situation this lies more in the realm of fantasy."
"However, life changes. It is very plausible that one day, those who are currently in power there will fall from power. In such a case this conversation is fully possible," he continued.
Parmas added that the current leaders of the state are subject to diplomatic immunity.
At the same time, The Hague has launched an international criminal investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity which have been committed in Ukraine.
"My knowledge is that there have not been any concrete suspects there so far, but data is being collected about concrete incidents, where civilians have been killed and civilian objects have been bombed – hospitals, residential buildings, the looting of stores etc.," he continued.
Parmas said that the conduct of war is fully prohibited by international law and the use of force may only go ahead in certain, restricted cases.
"If these cases are not limited, then this constitutes an aggressive war, which means a violation of international law, and if that extends beyond certain borders, it could constitute a crime of aggression," Parmas continued, adding that Russia's attack on Ukraine could be seen in this light.
Parmas added that when a war is already ongoing, it is nonetheless still subject to international human rights law in respect of restrictions on the use of violence.
"This must exclude civilians, civilian objects, dangerous objects (for instance military attacks on nuclear power stations – ed.), those people who have dropped out of combat such as the wounded," Parmas continued.
Parmas also said that not every Russian soldier who breached the border with Ukraine and fires on people would automatically become a war criminal as a result, on the grounds of the orders they had been given.
Parmas said that every Russian soldier who came across the border and shoots someone would not automatically become a war criminal. "A soldier - even the immediate commander of that soldier – is not behind the decision."
While it could not be stated that the rules of engagement are not generally followed during conflict, in the case of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the law has been manipulated or misused, and deception has often been deployed along the way.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte