Sabine Leutheusser Schnarrenberger, in an interview with Legal Tribune Online, 12 April 2022: "The fact that helpless people are killed on the run was a trigger for me to work on the criminal complaint."
Gerhart R. Baum, "In the fight against the aggressor, the law also counts as a weapon. Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and I have used the German international criminal law in force since 2002 in this sense. In an extensive complaint, we have recorded atrocities in Mariupol and Butcha."
There is indisputable evidence that the Russian attack on Ukraine is a crime according to international criminal law and the 1949 Geneva Conventions; and therefore, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Many national and international institutions, organizations and individuals have collected and secured evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
On 6 April 2022, Ms. Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, Deputy Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and former Federal Ministries, and Gerhart R. Baum, former Federal Minister, have submitted a criminal complaint against Vladimir Putin with the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe. The criminal complaint takes a significant investigative step further in comparison to other institutions and individuals gathering evidence of the crimes committed in Ukraine.
The international jurisdiction of the German criminal justice system is derived from Section 1, Sentence 1 of the Code of Crimes against International Law. The investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which have already been announced and have since commenced, do not hinder the application of the above, because the ICC's jurisdiction is complementary to that of any state "having jurisdiction."
Moreover, as far as it can be discerned, the criminal complaint names for the first time specific individuals responsible at all levels of the chain of command for war crimes and crimes against humanity that are described in detail. In addition to members of the Russian Security Council with its chair Vladimir Putin, many commanders of the Russian armed forces and members of various units of the Russian armed forces are named. Even if no trial against Putin could take place right now, the criminal charges are still a step towards implementation of international accountability for crimes against international law.