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Political science professor at Hofstra sees 'very small' chance of Putin being tried with war crimes

News 12's Doug Geed spoke to Paul Fritz, an associate professor of political science at Hofstra University, who specializes in international relations, about what charging countries with war crimes entails.

News 12 Staff

Apr 7, 2022, 7:45 PM

Updated 830 days ago

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There are increasing calls for Russian leader Vladimir Putin to be charged with war crimes for the atrocities in Ukraine.
News 12's Doug Geed spoke to Paul Fritz, an associate professor of political science at Hofstra University, who specializes in international relations, about what charging countries with war crimes entails.
"The basic idea behind all of it is even states that are at war can't do certain things," Fritz says. "One of the most important things is to avoid killing civilians, as well as doing other things to civilians--such as sexual crimes and forced displacement."
Even though there are eyewitness accounts, pictures and videos of countries perpetrating atrocities, experts say putting their leaders on trial is rare.
Fritz say the International Criminal Court that presides over war crime trials has no powers of enforcement on its own and he doesn't expect to see Putin in a courtroom.
"The likelihood that he'll be tried is very, very small because what it requires is that the Russian state would have to hand over Vladimir Putin for trial and effectively, Putin is the Russian state," Fritz says. "What has happened in the past is the leaders, even if they're indicted and there's a strong case against them, they simply don't go. They simply ignore it."
Fritz says other options against Putin are more likely--such as national courts in Europe pursuing charges.
He says even the most successful of those efforts would probably have limited results.
There have been some war crime trials that were completed--the most famous being the Nuremberg trials after World War II when nearly two dozen Nazi leaders were convicted.


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