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Who Is Karim Khan, the I.C.C. Prosecutor?

Karim Khan, the International Criminal Court prosecutor who announced on Monday that he would apply for arrest warrants for leaders of Israel and Hamas, has gained a reputation over a long career in international law as a gifted speaker and a tough-minded litigator.

A British litigator, he took over as chief prosecutor of the I.C.C. in June 2021. Before that, he had served for both the defense and the prosecution at several international courts.

Among his high-profile clients were Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi; and Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, who fired him.

One contentious case was his defense of William Ruto, now the president of Kenya, who faced charges of inciting violence that followed national elections. In 2016, when Mr. Ruto was deputy president, the case ended in a mistrial because of witness interference and political meddling. Mr. Khan was not accused of wrongdoing. He also worked on war crimes issues in Rwanda, Cambodia and Iraq.

The I.C.C. member nations elect a prosecutor in a secret ballot, and in 2021 they chose Mr. Khan after a monthslong deadlock. He received strong backing from Britain, among others in Europe. Though the United States is not a member of the court, Washington officials supported him behind the scenes.

One of his first acts as prosecutor, which took many by surprise, was to “deprioritize” an investigation into abuse of prisoners by American forces in Afghanistan, instead focusing on the larger-scale alleged crimes by the Taliban and Islamic State.

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