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Iran determined to pursue US assassination of General Soleimani in international courts: Official

Mourners gather to attend the funeral of General Qassem Soleimani in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. (Photo by AFP)

The Iranian vice president for legal affairs says the Islamic Republic is determined to pursue the “cowardly and unlawful” US assassination of Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani in international courts.

“Iran is determined to seriously pursue this grave crime particularly in the international arena. We believe that every court that fails to condemn this crime will lose its moral and professional competence,” Mohammad Dehqan told a group of Iraqi lawyers and academics in Tehran.

He hailed efforts by the Iraqi government and judiciary to follow up on the assassination case, and expressed hope these efforts will bear fruits for the two countries.

Dehqan said the West lacked moral authority to act as arbitrator in litigations pertaining to Muslim countries. He added that Iran and Iraq can further expand their legal cooperation and establish a regional court of justice with the help of other Muslim countries to address disputes between themselves and investigate crimes in the region.

He said the Iranian and Iraqi lawyers are duty-bound to pursue the US government’s “heinous atrocities in the southwest Asia region, particularly during the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Americans’ unwavering and open support for racist and inhumane measures of the infanticidal Israeli regime.”

The official said the US and other arrogant powers are using international legal mechanisms as a tool to advance their agenda.

“While Americans are the pivot of terrorism in our region and the world and the blood of thousands of innocent women and children are on their hands, they [claim to be a defender of human rights] and sanction countries under the pretext of rights violations," he added.

The Iranian general was assassinated in a US drone attack in Iraq in January 2020. Iran and Iraq have both launched investigations into the US strike and their courts are pursuing the case. But they’re yet to file a complaint at an international court.

In May, Tehran’s chief prosecutor Ali Salehi said an Iranian court has been handling the case, and has summoned 73 people for trial and indictment, including former US president Donald Trump, former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, and Head of US Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie.

He added that Iran has sent separate requests for judicial cooperation to nine countries that had probably played a role or were involved in the assassination.

Iranian and Iraqi officials have so far held several rounds of talks over the case.

Also in May, the head of Iraq’s public prosecution office ordered investigation into former Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s role in the assassination.

Back in 2020, Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said the killing of Soleimani was “unlawful and arbitrary,” noting that the US has not produced any proof to back its claim that the attack was justified by the need to stop an imminent attack.

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