Iran to seek Interpol arrest warrants for Israeli war crimes suspects

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court will seek Interpol arrest warrants for more than 100 Israelis on war crimes charges stemming from the conflict in Gaza, prosecutors in Tehran said March 5. Iran announced in December that it would establish a court to try Gaza war crimes suspects in absentia.

On March 2, a report from Iranian state broadcaster Press TV revealed that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were among 15 senior Israeli officials for whom Iran had sought arrest warrants under the Interpol constitution for charges including undue aggression, disproportionate use of military force, threatening world peace and security, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Interpol immediately publicly denied receiving any request from Iran to issue such warrants, noting that “Interpol’s Constitution strictly prohibits the Organization from making ‘any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.'”

Iranian chief prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi said that the list now includes more than 100 Israeli suspects, and that Iran will soon deliver dossiers on each to Interpol. Iranian Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi called the trials an Islamic duty. Interpol reiterated March 5 that no such warrant requests have been received from Iran.

Several other investigations into the Gaza conflict are pending. In January, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for an independent investigation of possible war crimes and human rights violations in Gaza. Following petitions from the Palestinian Authority, International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is also attempting to gain jurisdiction over Israel to investigate its actions in Gaza for alleged war crimes. Israel has already begun to consider defenses against possible war crimes charges, partly based on accusations that it used white phosphorus in a civilian area. (Jurist, March 5)

See our last posts on Gaza and Iran.