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ICC prosecutor under fire for delayed action against Israeli leaders

THE prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) came under fire on Tuesday as some United Nations members lined up to demand speedier action against Israeli leaders for possible war crimes in Gaza.

Karim Khan also faced a blistering attack by Russia over the ICC arrest warrant issued for President Vladimir Putin.

Libya’s UN ambassador Taher el-Sonni told Mr Khan that if the Libyan cases the ICC is investigating are so complex that they will not be completed until the end of 2025, he should allocate the court’s efforts to the war in Gaza.

Ambassador Sonni said the world expects the ICC “to be courageous and to issue arrest warrants against officials of the Israeli regime who have repeated again and again that they want to commit genocidal actions against Palestinians.”

“What are you waiting for Mr Khan? Don’t you see the threats against civilians, the potential threats against civilians in Rafah and the massacre that would happen at any time?”

Mr Sonni was referring to the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah, where 1.2 million Palestinians had fled seeking safety. 

Earlier this week UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres insisted that there is no safe place anywhere in Gaza.

“This is the actual test of the ICC,” Mr Sonni said. “Is the ICC politicised or is it independent and neutral?”

Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia tore into the ICC, labelling it a politicised “puppet body” controlled by the West that “has absolutely nothing to do with justice.”

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Mr Putin for alleged war crimes in March 2023, accusing the Russian president of personal responsibility for the abduction of children from Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

Mr Nebenzia said he wondered whether the work of the ICC had been affected ”by the fact that a new bipartisan Bill has been submitted to the United States Congress to sanction ICC officials involved in investigating not only the US but its allies.”

Last week, two Republican congressmen introduced the Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act to impose sanctions on ICC officials who go after the US or its allies including Israel.

Mr Khan said the ICC “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.”

“We will stand up and apply the law with integrity, with independence,” he said.


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