US President Donald Trump has had a “red notice” request for his arrest issued through Interpol by Iran, Al Jazeera reports.
Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili announced during a press conference on Tuesday that Iran has requested the international police organisation to arrest Trump and 47 other American officials identified as playing a role in the assassination of top general Qassem Soleimani last year.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is very seriously following up on pursuing and punishing those who ordered and executed this crime,” Esmaili told reporters.
Soleimani, Iran’s top general who led the foreign operations arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was assassinated on January 3, 2020, in a US drone strike in Baghdad ordered by Trump. The assassination was deemed to be against international law by Agnes Callamard, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
It was the second Iranian request for an international arrest warrant for Trump and dozens of US officials in the Pentagon and US Central Command, among other organisations.
In June, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr issued an arrest warrant for Trump and dozens of US officials saying they face “murder and terrorism charges”. But France-based Interpol rejected Iran’s request, saying its constitution forbids it from undertaking “any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character”.
Renewed talks of prosecuting Trump and other US officials come as part of Iranian promises to avenge Soleimani one year after his murder in an American drone strike in Iraq. They also come shortly before Trump has to leave office on January 20, something Iran hopes could boost his chances of facing consequences.
In a ceremony in Tehran to mark Soleimani’s assassination anniversary, judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi said Trump was a main target of prosecution and should not be immune because of his political status.
“Fortunately, Trump’s presidency has ended. But even if his term hadn’t ended, it would be unacceptable to say someone shouldn’t be accountable to law due to his administrative position,” he said.
The spokesman of the powerful constitutional vetting body, the Guardian Council, also said last week Iran would legally pursue Trump after he leaves the White House. Ali Kadkhodaei said Trump’s legal immunity as head of state is problematic for legally pursuing him, but “some international experts hold the view that after Trump’s presidency is over this might be possible”.
Tensions between Iran and the US have been on the rise around the first anniversary of Soleimani’s assassination.
The US has flown nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over the Gulf several times in the past month and on Monday reversed its decision to get a Navy aircraft carrier out of the region for what it said was because of renewed threats by Iranian officials.
Iran, on the other hand, has warned that hawks in the US and Israel may be trying to start a war in Trump’s remaining days in office.