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Iran President Targeted With ‘Crimes Against Humanity’ Complaint by Switzerland

A legal complaint called Monday for Swiss authorities to arrest Iran’s president during an expected visit and charge him with crimes against humanity connected to a 1988 purge of dissidents.

The complaint asks Swiss federal public prosecutor Andreas Muller to ensure the arrest and prosecution of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi “over his participation in acts of genocide, torture, extrajudicial executions and other crimes against humanity.”

Raisi was expected to participate in the United Nations Global Refugee Forum, which begins Wednesday in Geneva, but the U.N. said Monday evening that Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian would lead the Iranian delegation, an indication that Raisi might not show.

The legal complaint against him, seen by AFP, was dated Monday. The prosecutor’s office did not immediately confirm that it had been received.

It was filed by three alleged victims from Iran’s crackdown on dissidents in the 1980s.

Rights groups have long campaigned for justice over alleged extrajudicial executions of thousands of mainly young people across Iranian prisons within a few months in the summer of 1988, just as the war with Iraq was ending.

Those killed were mainly supporters of the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran, known by the abbreviations MEK or PMOI, a group considered a terrorist organization by Iran that backed Baghdad during the conflict.

The petitioners behind Monday’s complaint said they could personally identify Raisi as figuring on a commission that sent thousands of jailed opponents to their deaths during the crackdown.

He was serving as deputy prosecutor general of Tehran at the time and was among the most eager on his commission to sentence prisoners to death, the complaint said.

The main petitioner, Reza Shemiriani, was arrested in 1981 and was one of fewer than 150 of the 5,000 prisoners detained in his cell block who survived the 1988 purge, according to the complaint.

Raisi had asked him what group he belonged to, and when he said MEK, “his death sentence was assured,” the complaint said, adding that Shemiriani still did not know why his life was spared.

Instead, he remained in prison until 1991, facing daily torture, the complaint said.

The two other petitioners had also been in Iranian prisons in 1988, and said they recognized Raisi “as a member of the death commission,” according to the complaint.

International campaign

In parallel to the legal complaint, an international campaign is also underway expressing outrage at Raisi’s participation in the U.N. refugee forum and urging his prosecution for “involvement in past and ongoing crimes under international law.”

“Raisi was a key perpetrator of the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners. His presence at the U.N. forum contradicts the fundamental values the U.N. stands for,” said the petition.

So far it has gathered more than 200 signatures from dignitaries including Nobel laureates, judges, former ministers, parliamentarians, academics and U.N. rights experts.

“We firmly believe that the United Nations, as a bastion of human rights and justice, should not compromise its reputation by extending an invitation to an individual accused of grave human rights violations,” it said, urging the U.N. to “promptly rescind its invitation to Raisi.”

When asked about the petition, forum host UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, told AFP that “Iran is a member state of the United Nations and therefore invited to the Global Refugee Forum.”

“Iran has also been one of the largest refugee hosting countries for over 40 years,” a spokesperson said in an email, adding that “the Iranian delegation will be led by the foreign minister.”

Source : VOA