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Indict Ahmadinejad for inciting 
genocide: B'nai Brith

[PoliticsWatch updated 1:15 p.m., March 6, 2007]

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. 

OTTAWA  — Canada has been asked to take the  lead in the international charge to have Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicted for inciting genocide.  

The Jewish human rights group B'nai Brith Canada held a press conference on Parliament Hill Tuesday to announce they have prepared a formal indictment in case the government wants to take action.

The indictment on charges of "incitement to genocide" against Jewish people was drafted by David Matis, a lawyer for B'nai Brith Canada. 

"B'nai Brith Canada asks the Government of Canada to invoke a number of remedies for the crime of incitement to genocide against the Jewish people committed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran," B'nai Brith said in a forward to its indictment.

"Canada must act now against the threat to genocide of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad poses." 

The group wants Canada to: announce it will ban the entry of Ahmadinejad into Canada under threat of prosecuting him for incitement to genocide if he were to enter Canada; request the United Nations Security Council refer the matter to the International Criminal Court for prosecution; and request the International Court of Justice find Iran in violation of the Genocide Convention.  

Since being elected in August 2005, the controversial Iranian president, who is currently involved in a standoff with the international community over his country's nuclear program, has made numerous comments casting doubt on the Holocaust and calling it a "myth."  

In October 2005, Ahmadinejad told a Tehran conference called The World Without Zionism that "Israel must be wiped off the map." And last year Iran hosted an international art exhibit of cartoons satirizing the Holocaust. 

Despite international condemnation of the Iranian president's comments, there have been no formal charges laid against him. 

When asked why Canada and not Israel should bring this forward, Matas said the issue is important to the international community. 

"To leave it to Israel alone to me mischaracterizes the nature of the crime, which is not just a crime against Israel or just a crime against the Jewish people but a crime against all humanity," he said. 

B'nai Brith presented the indictment to officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday. Matas said the indictment was drafted because his organization had approached the department earlier but they had raised questions as to whether such an action was legally viable. 

In January, the Jerusalem Post reported the Israeli foreign ministry was reluctant to take on Ahmadinejad alone and had been reaching out to the international community. Israel is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court , plus the court has ruled against Israel over its West Bank barrier.  

Other countries have recently been approached by Israeli officials to take action. Earlier this year former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu made overtures to the UK to take similar action. 

Liberal MP Irwin Cotler has been among those leading the charge internationally to have Ahmadinejad indicted and had made recommendations similar to those B'nai Brith brought forward in a newspaper opinion piece last fall. 

In an interview with PoliticsWatch, Cotler said that as a party to the genocide convention and the ICC, Canada has a responsibility to enforce the convention and the treaty. 

"Where there is a blatant violation of those treaties then Canada as a state party can take appropriate action under those treaties," he said. "At the very least, they should refer this matter to the UN Security Council to hold Ahmadinejad accountable there."

Cotler said he's not sure whether foreign affairs has taken a "careful and serious look" at the issue. 

"I think if they will they will find that there is a basis for finding that Ahmadinejad is engaged in the direct and public incitement of genocide and if that is the case on the facts then there is a basis in law for preparing an indictment against him."

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