Hungary says will not arrest Putin as German foreign minister voices support for ICC

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BUDAPEST, March 23 (Reuters) – Hungary would not arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he entered the country, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff said on Thursday, adding that it would have no legal grounds.

Hungary signed and ratified the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court (ICC), which issued an arrest warrant on Friday accusing Putin of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. It said there were reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility.

When asked if Putin would be arrested if he came to Hungary, Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, told a briefing that the Rome Statute had not been built into the Hungarian legal system.

“We can refer to the Hungarian law and based on that we cannot arrest the Russian President … as the ICC’s statute has not been promulgated in Hungary,” Gulyas said.

When asked, he said his government “had not formed a stance” on the arrest warrant issued against Putin.

“These decisions are not the most fortunate as they take things towards further escalation and not towards peace, this is my personal subjective opinion,” Gulyas added.

Putin, only the third serving president to have been issued an arrest warrant by the ICC, is unlikely to end up in court any time soon. But the warrant means that he could be arrested and sent to The Hague if he travels to any ICC member states.

Russia has not concealed a programme under which it has taken thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia but presents it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children abandoned in the conflict zone.

Russia, which is not a party to the ICC, said its move was meaningless. Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that its forces have committed atrocities during its invasion of its neighbour.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said the ICC move would lead to “historic accountability”, adding that the deportations to Russia constituted a policy of “state evil which started precisely with the top official of this state”.

Meanwhile, German foreign minister voices support for ICC after Putin arrest warrant

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Thursday expressed support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) after its decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges.

Speaking during a news conference in North Macedonia, Baerbock said with reference to the Russian leader that “nobody is above the law”.

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