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Iraq should swiftly prosecute Soleimani assassination perpetrators: Iran’s Judiciary official

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Secretary General of Iran’s Human Rights Office Kazem Gharibabadi (L) and Iraqi Justice Minister Salar Abdul Sattar Muhammad meet in Tehran on October 19, 2021. (Photo by IRNA)

A senior official of Iran’s Judiciary has called on Iraq to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators in the assassination of Iran and Iraq’s top anti-terror commanders, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, as soon as possible.

In a meeting with Iraqi Justice Minister Salar Abdul Sattar Muhammad in Tehran on Tuesday, Kazem Gharibabadi, the secretary general of Iran’s Human Rights Office, said the two countries firmly pursue the assassination case.

Gharibabadi, who also serves as the Judiciary's deputy for international affairs, called on the Iraqi government to hold the first session of a joint committee to identify and prosecute the perpetrators at Iraq’s courts.

On January 3, 2020, the US military conducted an air operation on the order of then-President Donald Trump to assassinate General Soleimani. The cowardly act of terror near the Baghdad International Airport killed the popular anti-terror commander and his companions, including Muhandis, the deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).

Iranian officials have on several occasions vowed to avenge the January assassination, as well as the killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

As part of its retaliation, Iran launched a volley of ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq’s western province of Anbar on January 8, 2020, as a result of which 110 US troops were diagnosed with “traumatic brain injuries.”

Iran has denounced the assassinations as “state terrorism” and vowed to end the American presence in the region as the ultimate act of revenge, while urging Iraq to expel the US forces from the country.

Iranian Judiciary Chief Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei on Monday underlined the need for the most serious prosecution of the perpetrators of the assassinations.

“We will not allow the blood of these innocent people to be wasted,” Mohseni-Ejei said, blaming the US and the Israeli regime for the terrorist crimes.

Gharibabadi further expressed hope that Iran and Iraq would improve relations in various areas, especially in the legal and judicial fields.

He criticized the dual approach of hegemonic countries which have “turned the issue of human rights into a political means to abuse independent states.”

“But this issue cannot stop our path towards advancing our human rights positions and we will certainly have special measures on the agenda to counter the dual political approaches of Western countries,” the Iranian Judiciary official said. He expressed Iran’s readiness to broaden cooperation with Iraq on human rights issues, including the exchange of experience, training and civil rights with a special focus on the rights of women and children.

Gharibabadi said the activities of the terrorist Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) are also among important issues for both Iran and Iraq and noted that Tehran would soon offer practical proposals to Baghdad in this regard.

The MKO has conducted numerous assassinations and bombings against Iranian statesmen and civilians since the 1979 victory of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Its members fled Iran in 1986 for Iraq, where they enjoyed backing from former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Out of the nearly 17,000 Iranians killed in terrorist assaults since the Revolution, about 12,000 have fallen victim to the MKO’s acts of terror.

A few years ago, MKO elements were relocated from their Camp Ashraf in Iraq’s Diyala Province to Camp Hurriyet (Camp Liberty), a former US military base in Baghdad, and later sent to Albania.

The MKO terrorists enjoy freedom of activity in the US and Europe, and even hold meetings with European and American officials.

‘Iraq keen to cooperate with Iran’s Human Rights Office’

The Iraqi justice minister, for his part, said his country is ready to boost cooperation with Iran’s Human Rights Office. He pledged to help facilitate the holding of a joint committee session to investigate the 2020 assassination.

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