Putin could face arrest in South Africa if he attends economic summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin could be arrested if he decides to attend a key economic summit in South Africa in person this summer, authorities in the African nation said.
South African authorities have said they would have no choice but to execute the warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Putin’s arrest should he take part in the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) summit scheduled for August.
“We have no option not to arrest Putin,” a government official told the Sunday Times. “If he comes here, we will be forced to detain him.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa had established a special commission headed by his vice president to study the warrant, the Times reported.
The panel has found that South Africa, being one of the 123 countries to have ratified the Rome Statute establishing the ICC, would be obligated to place Putin under arrest if he were to set foot in the country, a source told the newspaper.
South African officials have been in talks with the Kremlin to try to dissuade Putin from traveling to their country, the outlet reported.
The Russian leader could still attend the summit via Zoom and avoid arrest.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov confirmed in April that Russia would take part in the summit.
“Of course, we will take part in the summit to be held in South Africa. Of course, this will be preceded by our bilateral contacts with the South Africans, we will clarify their position,” he said.
South Africa said last week it has no plans to withdraw from the ICC, contrary to Ramaphosa’s recent statements.
Ramaphosa’s office blamed his controversial comments criticizing the ICC and threatening to quit the court in The Hague on a “communication error” during a media briefing.
“The presidency wishes to clarify that South Africa remains a signatory (of the ICC),” Ramaphosa’s office said in a statement.
In its March 17 warrant, the Netherlands-based international court wrote that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for child abductions in Ukraine.
The Kremlin has dismissed the warrant as meaningless, given that Russia does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction.