AP: Prominent European lawyers brought together by an exiled Iranian group are hoping to punish Iranian leaders in international courts over the recent crackdown on protesters angry over presidential election results.
The Associated Press
By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU
PARIS (AP) – Prominent European lawyers brought together by an exiled Iranian group are hoping to punish Iranian leaders in international courts over the recent crackdown on protesters angry over presidential election results.
The aim is to "try to break the rule of absolute impunity protecting the leaders currently in place in Tehran," said French lawyer William Bourdon at Thursday's launch of the International Committee of Jurists defending Iranians, which was attended by the leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Maryam Rajavi.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran is an umbrella group that includes the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran. The People's Mujahedeen has been trying to shed a terrorist label after a series of bloody anti-Western attacks in the 1970s followed by years of attacks against Iran's Islamic establishment. The group says it has renounced violence but remains on the U.S. list of terrorist groups.
Four of the nine lawyers on the committee have represented NCRI members in European courts. The group includes figures who have worked on prominent human rights-related cases, and Spanish lawyer Juan Garces, who played a lead role in prosecuting Chile's Augusto Pinochet. Bourdon, who has defended Guantanamo Bay prison inmates, insisted the committee will independently pursue its goals.
The committee wants more U.N. sanctions against Iran over the protest crackdown, and to be able to pursue Iranian leaders in court if they travel to Europe. International sanctions already imposed on Iran aim at preventing the Islamic Republic from pursuing its nuclear program.
The committee plans to consult with the International Criminal Court in The Hague about investigating Iranian leaders for crimes against humanity, lawyer Jean-Pierre Spitzer said.
It remained uncertain how the lawyers intended to demonstrate a clear chain of responsibility to charge Iranian leaders for the violence, or whether international courts would accept their requests.
The International Criminal Court and the Iranian Embassy in France did not immediately return calls for comment.
Iranian police said 20 protesters were killed in Tehran during the crackdown on huge rallies that broke out after the disputed June 12 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.