fbpx
Somalia: ‘I sold the last three goats, they were likely to die’Read more Merck Foundation and African First Ladies marking World Cancer Day 2023 through 110 scholarships of Oncology Fellowships in 25 countriesRead more Supporting women leaders and aspirants to unleash their potentialRead more Fake medicines kill almost 500,000 sub-Saharan Africans a year: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reportRead more Climate crisis and migration: Greta Thunberg supports International Organization for Migration (IOM) over ‘life and death’ issueRead more United Nations (UN) Convenes Lake Chad Countries, Amid Growing Regional CrisisRead more 11 Disruptive Startups Selected for Cohort 3 of the Africa Startup Initiative Program (ASIP) Accelerator Program powered by Startupbootcamp AfricaRead more Africa Data Centres breaks ground on new Sameer facility in NairobiRead more Coffee with a human face: A union that improves livelihoods for Ugandan farmersRead more Trends Predicted to drive the retail industry in 2023Read more

Iran exiles sue President Raisi in US ahead of UN meet

show caption
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi was sued in the United States for his role in mass executions of opposition activists in 1988./AFP
Print Friendly and PDF

Aug 26, 2022 - 06:28 AM

WASHINGTON — An exile group announced a New York lawsuit against Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Thursday, challenging US authorities to take action against him as he is expected to arrive next month for the UN General Assembly.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran said the suit accused Raisi of torture and murder in a 1988 crackdown on Iranian dissidents.

Echoing similar complaints filed in England and Scotland, the civil lawsuit says that in 1988 Raisi was a member of the so-called “death commission,” four judges who directly ordered thousands of executions as well as torture of members of the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, known as the MEK.

The MEK is the largest partner of the NCRI.

It is “beyond doubt that as deputy state prosecutor for Tehran province, Ebrahim Raisi, was a member of that death commission,” Steven Schneebaum, the lead attorney in the lawsuit, said in a Washington press conference organized by the NCRI.

The suit was filed in federal court in New York last week in the names of two people tortured at the time and a third person whose brother was executed.

It cites Amnesty International and US sanctions declarations that accuse Raisi of complicity in the 1988 events.

The suit asks for unspecified damages for torture, extrajudicial killings, genocide and crimes against humanity.

It also challenges the notion that Raisi, who was elected president last year, enjoys immunity under US law as a head of state or official representative attending the annual UN meeting in New York.

Schneebaum said that Raisi is not a diplomat accredited to the United Nations and, while he is president, Iran’s real head of state is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Raisi is not a diplomat… and is not eligible for the privileges extended under the Vienna Convention. Nor is he in fact a head of state,” Schneebaum said.

If US authorities accept those arguments, they could serve Raisi with a warrant if he attends the UN meetings in September. He would then be required to submit a plea withing 21 days, said Schneebaum.

Asked about Raisi’s attendance, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said that visa issues are “confidential under US law” but that the United States had obligations to let in foreign dignitaries.

“As host nation of the UN, the US is generally obligated under the UN Headquarters Agreement to issue visas to representatives of UN member states to travel to the UN headquarters district,” Patel told reporters.

The lawsuit comes as Iran and the United States move closer through indirect diplomacy to reviving a 2015 nuclear deal trashed by former president Donald Trump.

It is exceedingly rare for the United States to refuse entry for UN meetings. In 1988, Washington drew controversy by barring Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, prompting the General Assembly to convene in Geneva instead.

MAORANDCITIES.COM uses both Facebook and Disqus comment systems to make it easier for you to contribute. We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. All comments should be relevant to the topic. By posting, you agree to our Privacy Policy. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, name-calling, foul language or other inappropriate behavior. Please keep your comments relevant and respectful. By leaving the ‘Post to Facebook’ box selected – when using Facebook comment system – your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the “X” in the upper right corner of the Facebook comment box to report spam or abuse. You can also email us.