It is not outside the realm of possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin could be tried by the International Criminal Court at some point, the ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said Friday.
"Nobody should feel they have a free pass," he said.
"I think those that think it’s impossible fail to understand history because the major Nazi war criminals, (former Yugoslav President Slobodan) Milošević, (former Bosnian Serb politician Radovan) Karadžić, (former Bosnian Serb military officer Ratko) Mladić, former (Liberian) President Charles Taylor, (former Prime Minister) Jean Kambanda from Rwanda, Hissène Habré (former president of Chad). All of them were mighty, powerful individuals, and yet they found themselves in courtrooms whose conduct was being adjudicated over by independent judges. And that also gives cause for hope that the law can, however difficult it may be, the law can be supreme," Khan said.
The ICC on Friday issued arrest warrants for Putin and Russian official Maria Lvova-Belova relating to an alleged scheme to forcibly deport thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.
"I think the message must be that basic principles of humanity bind everybody. And nobody should feel they have a free pass. Nobody should feel they can act with abandon, and that definitely, nobody should feel that they can act and commit genocide or crimes against humanity or war crimes with impunity," Khan said.
The prosecutor said it was important for the ICC to start these investigations as quickly as possible with a focus on the plight of victims.
"The law must be about, and particularly criminal law, must be about victims and survivors," Khan added.
Watch the interview with Karim Khan: