Iran General NewsIranian leader Ahmadinejad in Rudd's sights

Iranian leader Ahmadinejad in Rudd’s sights

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ImageThe Australian: The Rudd Government is preparing a case to take Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the International Court of Justice for "inciting genocide" and denying the Jewish Holocaust.

The Australian

Dennis Shanahan, Political editor

ImageTHE Rudd Government is preparing a case to take Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the International Court of Justice for "inciting genocide" and denying the Jewish Holocaust.

Australia is the only nation pursuing Iran's despotic leader, who has threatened to "wipe Israel off the map", through international laws.

The Australian revealed last October that Kevin Rudd, then the Opposition leader, promised the Jewish community before last year's election he would take legal proceedings in the ICJ against Mr Ahmadinejad.

The Labor leader said it was "strongly arguable" that Mr Ahmadinejad's conduct – statements about wiping Israel off the map, questioning whether Zionists were human beings and a conference that he convened on the veracity of the Holocaust – amounted to incitement to genocide, which was criminalised under the 1948 genocide convention.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland, who pushed the campaign against Mr Ahmadinejad when he was Labor's foreign affairs spokesman, confirmed yesterday the Government was seeking legal advice on taking Mr Ahmadinejad to the ICJ. "The Government considers the comments made by Iranian President Ahmadinejad, calling for the destruction of Israel and questioning the existence of the Holocaust, to be repugnant and offensive," Mr McClelland told The Australian yesterday.

"The Government is currently taking advice on this matter."

Mr McClelland had argued that taking legal action was better than other alternatives.

"The alternative to not using these international legal mechanisms is considering wholesale invasion of countries, which itself involves, obviously, expense but more relevantly, ofcourse, the potential for significant loss of life," Mr McClelland said.

An Iranian government spokesman was unavailable for comment when contacted by The Australian yesterday.

International pressure on Iran has grown exponentially recently with estimates that the Ahmadinejad Government could have nuclear capability within 18 months.

At the remembrance ceremony in Israel for the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state, Israeli leaders linked the horrors of the Nazi holocaust with the fears of a nuclear-armed anti-Israeli state.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: "Sixty-three years have passed since the Satanic factories of death of the Nazis and their collaborators ceased to operate, yet with the passing of time, the dimensions of the Holocaust still remain beyond comprehension, unfathomably shocking, unacceptably chilling.

"Who would have believed that 63 years later, hatred of Jews and Israelis would rear its ugly head in so many different places around the globe, provocatively and venomously, inciting hatred?"

Trade Minister Shaul Mofaz claimed Iran could have the technology to make a bomb this year. Earlier intelligence-based assessments suggested Iranian scientists need at least 18months to produce a bomb.

When Mr Rudd committed a Labor government to pursuing Mr Ahmadinejad through international laws, the Coalition government labelled the promise a "stunt" that would fail.

Brendan Nelson, then defence minister, said Mr Rudd was raising expectations that "cannot be achieved".

The Opposition Leader said the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court – the body that hears cases against individuals, as opposed to the ICJ, which hears cases against countries – had found it would fail.

Individuals of countries that don't recognise the ICC, such as Iran, can be charged if the UN Security Council agrees.

Alexander Downer, then the foreign minister, said Mr Ahmadinejad would have to be taken before the ICC, and only on the agreement of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

Mr Downer accused Mr Rudd of knowingly misleading the Australian public and the Jewish community with a "ghastly stunt" that he knew could not be carried out and would only undermine Australia's diplomatic standing.

International prosecutors have previously warned of difficulties with such a proposal, adding they only wish to start cases that would lead to a successful conviction.

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