Assad arrest warrant ‘historic’: French court’s indictment of foreign head-of-state ‘unprecedented’

French judicial authorities issued international arrest warrants for Syrian President Bashar Assad, his brother and two army generals for alleged complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity. In what is being described as a ‘historic first’, FRANCE 24’s Nadia Massih is joined by Steve Kostas, Senior Legal Officer with the Open Society Justice Initiative’s litigation team. Mr. Kostas asserts that the French court’s “unprecedented” step is historic in a number of ways. “It’s the first criminal case to address the chemical weapons attacks committed by the Syrian government. It’s the first time in the history of international law and international justice that a foreign-sitting head of state has been charged by a national court for international crimes. And it’s the first time that victims testified about what happened to them in a court to investigating judges.” He describes this as a potential “watershed moment in justice for international crimes” which could very well “call into question” the absolute immunity of foreign sitting heads of state. Most importantly, he says these are “welcome developments” for the victims and the survivors.”