War crimes expert, former UND professor: Putin responsible for ‘whole slew’ of crimes
HONG KONG (KVRR) – A former University of North Dakota professor who is considered one of the world’s leading war crimes authorities says it won’t be a “slam-dunk” if a decision is made to prosecute Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Professor Gregory Gordon helped prosecute Nazi war criminals and has lectured the United Nations about war crimes and genocide. Gordon was Director of the Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies at UND and is currently a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
“It’s absolutely huge that you establish the chain of command and that you find evidence going up and down the chain,” according to Gordon. “A case before the (International Criminal Court) is going to be against leadership…and the key is to show that there’s communication going up and down the chain.”
In an interview with KVRR news, Gordon said the collection of evidence used to build a case against Putin is growing.
“We know already, with respect to Crimea and eastern Ukraine, we have a whole slew of crimes. Everything from deportation…willful killing, attacking civilian objects. All those represent both war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
“Now what we’re seeing…coming in from the media reports are instances of war crimes. The way we know that is we’ve seen for example, rocket attacks that are going against civilian areas, that are clearly not legitimate military targets.”
Gordon cautioned that even though the evidence against Putin looks strong, nothing is ever certain. “It’s definitely never a slam dunk. I think the key is to show the lines of communication. But I think in this particular case, from what I know, Putin exercises such an iron grip on the country, that it probably would be viable.”
“I think they could probably get the evidence. But again, it’s one thing for us to think ‘Oh, it looks in the media, from what we see in the report that Putin exercises an iron grip over the country.’ It’s another thing to say ‘How do you prove that in court?’’
Gordon also says social media will play a major role in recording and preserving evidence against Putin.
“You will have videos…whether they’re on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram or whatever. You’ll have witnesses, who hopefully will survive the war. They will be requested to come to The Hague if possible, or possibly give a video deposition testimony. Documents will be collected, but all of this will probably be supplemented by social media evidence.”
The International Criminal Court in The Hague has started a war crimes investigation against Putin. Gordon says if Putin is charged, he would have to be taken into custody before a trial could be held.