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Russian commanders 'will be hunted down for war crimes', justice secretary warns

Russian commanders will be hunted down for war crimes if they follow Vladimir Putin’s orders in Ukraine, the justice secretary has warned.

Dominic Raab said the UK is already planning to help identify and find fugitives suspected of war crimes.

The UK and 37 other countries referred Russia on Wednesday to the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to investigate “war crimes in Ukraine” in the largest referral in the ICC’s history.

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Trains overflow as Ukrainians flee the frontline

As the nations have grouped together, the ICC prosecutor will not need to get judicial approval to begin so they can start the investigation straight away.

Mr Johnson called Russia’s invasion “barbaric” and said all 38 countries are “crystal clear that Putin cannot commit these horrific acts with impunity”.

Read more: How prosecutors could get Putin to stand trial for war crimes

More on Dominic Raab

Mr Raab, who is also the deputy prime minister, revealed more details to The Daily Telegraph, telling the paper Britain has expertise in gathering intelligence from previous conflicts that could provide crucial evidence to place war criminals on trial.

He said he was in discussions with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss over the UK’s exact role.

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Russian troop movement in Ukraine

The former lawyer, who prosecuted war criminals, told the paper: “It is important to lay down a marker now and puncture the perception of impunity.

“What we really want to do is get this message to Putin but also any commander in the field who may be thinking about what he is going to do with an illegal order that may cause him to commit war crimes.

“They need to know there is a very real chance that they will face the dock of a court in The Hague and a jail cell. That’s why we will support the International Criminal Court, technically but also in terms of any other ways.”

He added that during the Nuremberg Trials, the Yugoslav tribunal and at the International Criminal Court, the UK has “always had cooperation and information”.

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Mr Raab said the UK has helped locate fugitives and provided key information to help the prosecutor’s office gather evidence to secure convictions.

“We have expertise in that area and provided lead information in the past that has proved absolutely critical,” he added.

“Few countries around the world have that sort of capability.”

He also said the UK could help with witness location and protection and prisons in the country could house war criminals.


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