South Africa has issued a warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying he will be arrested if he attends the upcoming BRICS summit slated for August 2023.
Recall that there is an active arrest warrant placed on Putin for war crimes charges by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March.
Issuing the warning to Putin according to the Heritage Times, a South African government official is quoted as saying: “We have no option not to arrest Putin. If he comes here, we will have to arrest him.”
South Africa urged the Russian leader who has been declared wanted by the ICC to join the bloc meeting via Zoom.
As a member of the ICC, South Africa is under obligation to hand over Putin to investigators.
Last week, Ramaphosa appointed a special government committee headed by the country’s vice president to study Vladimir Putin’s international arrest warrant, the Heritage Times reported.
The committee will not be able to find “any options that would allow Putin to come. The only option we have is for [Putin] to participate in the summit via Teams or Zoom from Moscow.”
Last week, South Africa’s Presidency officially confirmed that the country has no plans to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the ICC, denying Ramaphosa’s comment that Pretoria is considering exiting its membership.
The Kremlin said it had not yet decided whether Putin would attend the August summit.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague issued arrest warrants on March 17 for Putin and Russian Children’s Ombudsperson Maria Lvova-Belova.
They are accused of illegally deporting children from Ukraine to Russia since Feb. 24, 2022.
Putin may be arrested in 123 countries that have ratified the Rome Statute, which South Africa belongs to.
Membership of the bloc is drawn from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.