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Trump could face ‘strong’ war-crimes case over Soleimani’s murder

Iran has indicated that it will pursue war-crimes charges against President Donald Trump at the International Criminal Court in the Hague over this month's assassination of General Qassem Soleimani.

Published: January 21, 2020, 8:29 am

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    According to the legal expert consulted by Business Insider Iran has a chance of winning any case at the ICC. The NATO military attaché in the Middle East told Insider that the case against the US was in fact “shockingly strong”.

    The US has defended the killing by saying that Soleimani posed an “imminent” threat to the US. But Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions, tweeted that the bar for justifying lethal action in such circumstances is extremely high and requires a threat level that the US has so far failed to identify.

    Callamard noted: “The targeted killings of Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al Muhandi most likely violate international law [including] human rights law,” she wrote. “Lawful justifications for such killings are very narrowly defined and it is hard to imagine how any of these can apply to these killings.”

    The White House statement “mentions that it aimed at ‘deterring future Iranian attack plans,'” she added. “This however is very vague. Future is not the same as imminent which is the time based test required under international law.”

    According to Gholam Hossein Esmaeili, the spokesman for Iran’s top judicial authorities, his country will pursue war-crimes charges against Trump over the January 3 assassination of its top commander outside Baghdad’s international airport,

    “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,” Esmaeili told the media on Tuesday.

    “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 … and Trump has confessed doing the crime.”

    The US is however not a signatory to the international court but Trump will face a global public-relations burden if the case goes to trial.

    Iran’s move could pose significant problems for the US and its NATO partners, should the court rule against the Trump administration, the internationally recognized NATO expert told the Insider.

    “If this case happens — I suspect there are some reasons Iran might not want to take this mess to an international court for their own reasons — but if it does go forward, the case against the Americans is shockingly strong,” the official, who asked not to be named, said.

    “On the face of it, the killing of Soleimani for reasons specifically cited by Trump is probably illegal. Do the Americans have a stronger case then they’re showing us?

    “I would assume so, but there’s little chance of them participating in a Hague trial, so all the evidence will be what Iran delivers along with public statements. And these statements will not look good in a courtroom,” he concluded.

    At the US media briefing after the murder, an unnamed US official said when questioned about it: “Jesus, do we have to explain why we do these things?”

    The US is not at war with Iran. The US Constitution gives Congress the sole authority to declare war, and it has never declared war on Iran. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi correctly suggested that congressional leaders should have been consulted on the plan.

    The Pentagon said it was “deterring future Iranian attack plans.” As Callamard pointed out, this is not the same as the “imminent” attack required to justify acting in self-defense under international law.

    A total of seven people died and these other deaths were also illegal killings.

    Meanwhile, it was revealed that an Iranian Woman in the #IraniansDetestSoleimani viral video had been a lobbyist for militants in Libya. But Saghar Erica Kasraie never disclosed her involvement in Libya’s civil war, Buzzfeed reported.

    She received more than 10 million views across Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, for praising the US drone strike that killed Soleimani. Last year, Kasraie worked for Linden Government Solutions, a Texas-based lobbying firm hired to represent the Libyan National Army in Washington. The militia in the north African country is led by Khalifa Haftar.

    In the video, Kasraie, maintains that Iranians were celebrating Soleimani’s death, thanking Trump, and giving out cakes on the street as a symbol of their joy. “I feel like we’re living in the Twilight Zone, guys. I’m completely outraged at this notion that the propaganda machine that is the media is glorifying Qassem Soleimani,” she claims in the video.

    Public documents filed through the Foreign Agent Registration Act show that her job entailed “Planning, coordinating meetings with Government, Business representatives, and think tanks, and other government relations services in support of Client’s diplomatic goals” on behalf of the “Decision Support Center of Libya (on behalf of the Libyan National Army)”.

    Kasraie’s YouTube video was tagged #IraniansDetestSoleimani, and amplified by “inauthentic Twitter accounts” – actually bots – several minutes after the video was posted.

    She denied that the inauthentic activity surrounding the video was linked to her lobbying firm, saying that her video had been successful because people agreed with what she had to say. “I think I represent Iranians that support Trump,” she said.

    Trump has now threatened the signatories of the Iran nuclear deal with a 25 percent tariff on exported cars unless they officially accuse Iran of breaking the 2015 JCPOA deal, it has been reported.

    The secret threat last week, first reported by The Washington Post, cited unnamed European officials, confirming that the tariffs could be imposed on all European automobile imports to the US unless Britain, France and Germany agreed to the ultimatum.

    Iran has countered the European move. Its Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that Iran may leave the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) if any of the European countries escalates the issue to the UNSC.

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