Ukraine’s parliament has voted overwhelmingly to send Viktor Yanukovych and two senior members of his former government before the International Criminal Court for “crimes against humanity”.
The ousted president is still on the run. The resolution links him to police violence against protesters which caused the deaths of more than 100 people.
It also calls for former interior minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and former prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka, who are also being sought by the authorities, to be sent for trial at the ICC.
The court in The Hague replied that it could intervene if the Ukrainian government asked it to.
Ukraine never signed the treaty that created the ICC, meaning the court has no automatic jurisdiction over recent events in the country. If the government formally invites it in, however, the court would have the power to investigate.
Yanukovych was indicted for “mass murder” on Monday over the shooting of demonstrators and is now on the wanted list, having last been seen at Balaclava in Crimea, near Russia’s Sevastopol
An aide said be on the run with Yanukovych was shot in the leg, his spokesman said. It was not clear where the aide, Andriy Klyuev, was, or whether he was with the fugitive leader.
Meanwhile the country’s acting president Oleksandr Turchynov says a new “national unity” government should be in place on Thursday.
A parliamentary vote has been put off until then to allow consultations to continue.
“The formation of the government is a great responsibility. On the one hand it must not be delayed because Ukraine’s economy must be saved, but on the other hand mistakes must not be made by moving too fast,” said Ihor Miroshnychenko, an MP from the nationalist “Svoboda” party.
The parliamentary leader of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, Oleksandr Efremov, said it would do all it could to help form a new government, and would back it but would not be taking part.
Watching developments closely are the Maidan protesters, still in the square demanding a change not just of leadership but in the way Ukraine is run.