Iran opposition group calls for arrest of President Raisi ahead of COP26 in Glasgow

Iran opposition group calls for arrest of President Raisi ahead of COP26 in Glasgow
Ebrahim Raisi after casting his vote during presidential elections at a polling station in Tehran, Iran, June 18, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 13 October 2021

Iran opposition group calls for arrest of President Raisi ahead of COP26 in Glasgow

Iran opposition group calls for arrest of President Raisi ahead of COP26 in Glasgow
  • ‘There can be no impunity for crimes against humanity,’ says ex-member of European Parliament
  • Raisi accused of responsibility for execution of thousands of regime critics in 1988

LONDON: The National Council of Resistance of Iran on Wednesday called for the arrest and prosecution of the country’s President Ebrahim Raisi on charges of crimes against humanity.

At a press conference in Glasgow attended by Arab News, the NCRI said he should be “immediately arrested” if he attends the UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, in the Scottish city later this month.

Struan Stevenson, a former member of the European Parliament from Scotland, told the press conference that the efforts of the NCRI and its supporters are not “with the sole objective of stopping Raisi from coming to COP26,” and that “we will hunt this man down in any country in the world that he dares to step foot in.” Stevenson added: “There can be no impunity for crimes against humanity of this magnitude.”

Hossein Abedini, who sits on the NCRI’s foreign affairs committee, said Raisi is responsible for the execution of thousands in 1988, referencing Amnesty International’s description of these murders as “ongoing crimes against humanity.”

Stevenson detailed Raisi’s involvement in the infamous 1988 massacres in Tehran, when critics of the regime were executed following brief, sham trials. 

Raisi is accused by the NCRI of various crimes against humanity, including ordering the execution of teenage girls — some as young as 15 — and the murder of pregnant women.

“The people of Iran know him (Raisi) as a butcher. That’s why we can’t allow such a person to have any form of impunity,” said Stevenson.

“The purpose of the investigation that we’ve asked for with the Metropolitan Police in London and Police Scotland is that they’ll build a case that they account for and will then be handed to the public prosecutor of the International Criminal Court,” he added. 

“Similar activities are taking place in the Netherlands and Canada and other countries around the world.”

The NCRI and its supporters are hoping to bring a case against Raisi through a legal power called universal jurisdiction, which allows a person to be prosecuted and tried in another country than the one where the crimes were committed.

Britain has adopted universal jurisdiction for a number of serious crimes, such as crimes against humanity and torture, which Raisi stands accused of by multiple NCRI supporters and families in Iran.

The press conference heard from a number of his victims, including political prisoners and family members of the deceased. 

One of the victims detailed how five of her family members had been executed by the regime. Her brother Hossein was arrested in 1981 and she has not seen him since. 

Her two uncles were executed in 1981, and her two aunties were murdered in the 1988 massacres.

She was emotional as she detailed how her aunties were “directly hanged by the order of Raisi.”

Reza Fallahi, a political prisoner from 1981 to 1991 who witnessed the 1988 massacres, told the press conference that “at least one year prior to the massacre, they categorized and labeled the different prisoners with colors, so it started one year prior to the murders … It was a systematic matter, not an immediate war crime.”

The NRCI in the UK and Stevenson are awaiting responses from the Metropolitan Police and Police Scotland, respectively.


Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation
Updated 6 sec ago

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation
  • A Beirut court rejected the last of the suits preventing Tarek Bitar from questioning top officials
BEIRUT: The probe into last year’s deadly Beirut port blast has been cleared to resume after being suspended for more than a month on legal claims against its lead investigator, judge Tarek Bitar, a judicial source said.
A Beirut court rejected the last of the suits preventing Bitar from questioning top officials on Tuesday.
“They have reversed the decision that had led to the suspension of the probe and he can now resume his work for sure,” Nizar Saghieh, head of the Legal Agenda, a research and advocacy organization, told Reuters.
The resumption could be temporary should further legal complaints be filed, he said.
The investigation into the Aug. 4, 2020, blast that killed more than 215 people, injured thousands and destroyed large swathes of the city has made little headway amid pushback from powerful factions, some of whom lead smear campaigns and filed multiple suits against Bitar.
The leader of the Iranian-backed, armed Shiite Muslim political movement Hezbollah has repeatedly said he wanted Bitar removed from the case and the row over him has spilled over into government, with Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s cabinet unable to meet since Oct. 12.
Many Lebanese are angry that more than one year on from the blast no senior official has been held accountable for the country’s worst peace-time disaster as it slips into political and economic meltdown.
Bitar has sought to question senior politicians, including former ministers and members of parliament, since July but nearly all have spurned him.
He is the second judge to take charge of the investigation after a legal complaint against the partiality of his predecessor Fady Sawan saw him removed in February.

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4
Updated 07 December 2021

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

BASRA: At least four people were killed and 20 wounded in an explosion in Iraq's southern city of Basra, police and hospital sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
Police are still investigating the cause of the blast, which took place in the city centre, near a main hospital. The explosion set fire to at least one vehicle and damaged a minibus.
One police source said that an initial investigation showed that a motorcycle rigged with explosives could have been the cause of the blast. 


UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022
Updated 07 December 2021

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022
  • The decision is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance, WAM reported

DUBAI: The UAE government will transition to a four-and-a-half-day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday forming the new weekend starting Jan. 1, 2022 for all federal departments, state news agency WAM reported. 
The new system will be applied in all federal government entities with working hours from 7:30 a.m. till 3:30 p.m., it added.
Working hours on Fridays will start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 12 noon, with the possibility of flexible working hours or work from home options during those days. Friday sermons and prayers will be after 1:15 p.m. all year long in the UAE. 
The decision is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance, WAM reported.


UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed
Updated 07 December 2021

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed
  • It is the first polymer banknote to be circulated in the country
  • The current 50- dirham note will continue to be used

DUBAI: UAE rulers witnessed the launch of a new 50-dirham banknote on Tuesday, in celebration of the country’s 50th National Day. 
The initiative comes in honor of the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, and the country’s first generation of rulers to commemorate their dedication and historical role in uniting the country.
It is the first polymer banknote to be circulated in the country.
“We see in this issuance the new phase that UAE will enter, and a renewed pledge to continue its growth path. The occasion also allowed us to express our appreciation and gratitude to our founding fathers by issuing a new AED50 banknote to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the UAE,” said Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of the UAE. 
The front of the new banknote features a portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed on the right, and the memorial picture of the founding fathers after signing the union document. 
Meanwhile, the back side includes a picture of the late Sheikh Zayed signing the union agreement as well as illustration of the Etihad Museum, which witnessed the establishment of the union and the raising of the UAE flag for the first time.
According to state news agency WAM, the new banknote will be available in Central Bank branches and ATMs ‘in the near future’.
The current 50- dirham note will continue to be used.
Polymer banknotes are said to be more durable and sustainable than traditional cotton paper banknotes, lasting two or more times longer in circulation. They can also be completely recycled, thus reducing their environmental footprint.


Syria says fires extinguished at Latakia’s port following Israeli ‘aggression’

 Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 07 December 2021

Syria says fires extinguished at Latakia’s port following Israeli ‘aggression’

 Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
  • Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria

CAIRO: Fires caused by an Israeli “aggression” at Syria’s Latakia port on Tuesday had been extinguished, leaving material damage, but the status of any casualties was unclear, Syria’s state media reported.

Five explosions rocked the port city after an Israeli “aggression” hit the port’s container yard, sending fire trucks racing to the site, Syrian state TV said.

Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces including Lebanon’s Hezbollah have deployed over the last decade to support President Bashar Assad.

The Mediterranean port of Latakia is the country’s main port, through which food and other crucial supplies flow into war-torn Syria, and is close to Russia’s main air base of Hmeimim.