he UK will assist the International Criminal Court (ICC) in hunting down suspected Russian war criminals, the deputy prime minister has said.
Dominic Raab – who has a background in prosecuting war criminals – told the Daily Telegraph that Britain could house Russian commanders suspected of atrocities in its prisons – in addition to proving a safe haven for witnesses who testified against them.
The senior minister outlined the UK’s role in the International Criminal Court’s investigation in the wake of Boris Johnson’s damning remarks about Vladimir Putin.
Mr Raab added that the UK was privy to vital information secured during previous war crime investigations that could help secure convictions.
It comes after the UK explicitly accused Mr Putin of war crimes for the first time, with Downing Street claiming “horrific acts” were occurring on an almost hourly basis as population centres are targeted.
While the deputy PM said he and the Foreign Secretary were still in the process of hashing out the details of Britain’s precise role in the ICC’s investigation, he promised that “few countries around the world” had the UK’s “lead information” which would likely prove “absolutely critical”.
When pressed on the exact nature of this intelligence by the Telegraph, Mr Raab said he could not discuss sensitive information, but added: “What I can tell you is that, from Nuremberg through to the Yugoslav tribunal and International Criminal Court, we have always had cooperation and information which has done two things: Locate fugitives (and)… provide lead information which can help the prosecutor’s office gather evidence which will secure convictions.”
The ICC opened an investigation on Wednesday night after Britain and 37 allies referred Russia over what the Prime Minister described as “abhorrent” attacks.
The move came as Ukraine’s capital Kyiv braced for a siege, its second-largest city Kharkiv reeled from further strikes and the control of port city Kherson was contested by the Russian military.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said work would begin “immediately”, with his team already collecting evidence, after the co-ordinated referral freed him to get to work without the need for judicial approval.
Mr Johnson warned the Russian president he “cannot commit these horrific acts with impunity”.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, the PM said that in addition to sanctions that have already been announced, the Government would be publishing a complete list of those in Britain with links to the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin’s regime.
He added: “Putin has gravely miscalculated. In his abhorrent assault on a sovereign nation, he has under-estimated the extraordinary fortitude of the Ukrainian people and the unity and resolve of the free world in standing up to his barbarism.
“What we have seen already from Vladimir Putin’s regime in the use of the munitions that they have already been dropping on innocent civilians, in my view, already fully qualifies as a war crime.
“We call on every nation to join us in condemning Russia and demanding that Putin turns his tanks around.”