International Criminal Court warns against ‘retaliation threats’ 

International Criminal Court warns against ‘retaliation threats’ 
International Criminal Court warns against ‘retaliation threats’ 

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - The International Criminal Court prosecutors warned today against ‘individuals who threaten to retaliate’ against the tribunal or its staff, saying such actions might constitute an ‘offence against its administration of justice’. — Reuters pic

THE HAGUE, May 3 — International Criminal Court prosecutors warned today against “individuals who threaten to retaliate” against the tribunal or its staff, saying such actions might constitute an “offence against its administration of justice”.

The ICC did not say if the comment related to its investigation into possible war crimes by Israel or Palestinian groups in Gaza and the West Bank.

US media said this week the ICC might issue an arrest warrant for Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and that the latter had urged US President Joe Biden to prevent the court from doing so.

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Today, the Hague-based office of ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan said on X that it sought to “engage constructively with all stakeholders whenever dialogue is consistent with its mandate”.

“That independence and impartiality are undermined, however, when individuals threaten to retaliate against the court or against court personnel” if it “made decisions” about probes that fell in its mandate, it said.

“Such threats, even not acted upon, may constitute an offence” against the ICC’s “administration of justice”, it said.

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“The Office insists that all attempts to impede, intimidate or improperly influence its officials cease immediately.”

Khan’s office declined to answer questions from AFP as to where the threats of retaliation may have originated from.

It also declined to comment when asked whether it was referring to its investigation into Israel and the war in Gaza.

The ICC opened a probe in 2021 into Israel, as well as Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups, over possible war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Khan has said this investigation now “extends to the escalation of hostilities and violence since the (Hamas) attacks that took place on October 7, 2023”.

The New York Times has quoted Israeli officials as saying that Israel Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu could be among those charged by the court.

The ICC was also weighing charges against Hamas leaders, the newspaper reported.

A series of Israeli officials has in recent days said any attempt by the court to take any action against Israel would be “outrageous”.

Netanyahu said on X on Wednesday that the ICC was “contemplating issuing arrest warrants against senior Israeli government and military officials as war criminals”.

“This would be an outrage of historic proportions,” he said, alleging that the ICC was “trying to put Israel in the dock”.

The United States said on Monday it also opposed the ICC’s probe into Israel’s conduct in Gaza.

The ICC is the world’s only independent court set up to probe the gravest offences by individual suspects, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It has previously issued warrants for national leaders — most recently Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine.

The war in Gaza started after Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s relentless retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34,568 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the besieged Hamas-run enclave. — AFP

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