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Soleimani killing: Iran seeking US prosecution in ICC

January 20, 2020 at 3:12 pm

People gather to protest the US air strike in Iraq that killed Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani on 6 January, 2020 [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

Iran has expressed its intention to file charges against the US President Donald Trump at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague over the January 3 assassination of its top commander Qassem Soleimani.

“We intend to file lawsuits in the Islamic Republic, Iraq and The Hague Court [International Court of Justice] against the military and government of America and against Trump,” Iran’s judiciary spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaeili, said during a press conference last week.

“There is no doubt that the US military has done a terrorist act assassinating Guards Commander Lt. Gen. Soleimani and Second-in-Command of Iraq Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis” Esmaeili continued.

Since the killing, Iran’s leadership has vowed political, military, and legal revenge for what has been described as an unlawful killing of one of their greatest military heroes. The first wave of revenge strikes came nearly a week after Soleimani’s assassination when the US Ain Al-Assad Airbase in the Iraqi governate of Al Anbar was struck by rockets.

READ: 16 US soldiers flown to Kuwait hospital after Iran strike

Soleimani’s assassination and Iran’s reaction to it is viewed by some analysts to be a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and a breach of international law. Both operations were carried out without the consent of the government in Baghdad.

The slain general in fact is believed to have been in Iraq at the invitation of Iraq to discuss de-escalating tensions in the region.

Iran is expected to initially file a lawsuit “under the Islamic Penal Code,” after which a similar suit will be filed in Iraq and The Hague Court, Esmaeili suggested.

There have been conflicting narratives over the US killing of Soleimani. President Trump has been under pressure to explain the reason for ordering the killing of Iran’s most high-profile general.

The official narrative, which looks increasingly like an after-the-fact save face exercise, is that Soleimani presented an “imminent threat” to the US and was planning on attacking four American embassies.

This explanation has not convinced everyone, least of all Democrat members of Congress as well as the Pentagon. US Defence Secretary, Mark Esper, has thrown further doubts over the official narrative by admitting that he did not see specific evidence “with regard to four embassies.”

Trump reacted to his inability to convince his critics by suggesting that the reasons for killing Soleimani didn’t matter because of his past record. “It doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past!” tweeted Trump.