The deputy speaker of the Iranian parliament has reacted defensively to questions about of the ongoing Aban Tribunal in London. Hassan Norouzi, also a spokesman for the parliament’s Legal and Judicial Committee, was approached for comment on the proceedings by a reporter for the Iranian news website Iran Watch.
He responded: “I was one of the people who shot at people. We killed them. Now, who wants to put us on trial? The other side set fire to the banks and we killed them. Who do you want to put on trial?”
The Aban Tribunal is an independent people’s tribunal seeking to establish if crimes against humanity were committed by the Iranian state during and after the November 2019 protests. Over five days, a panel of international lawyers has heard testimonies from experts and eyewitnesses on the events of that month. Some 133 officials are accused of culpability for the slaughter.
Asked if it would not have been better for such a probe to be held in Iran, not the United Kingdom, Norouzi was incredulous: “What does it mean? What should be held in court?”. When the purpose of the Aban Tribunal was explained to him again, he asked: “Who should be convicted, the murdered, or the murderers? Before terminating the call, he told the journalist: “I was joking.”
The Aban Tribunal is symbolic and the findings carry no legal weight by themselves. But the welter of evidence and findings could be used in future criminal proceedings. At least one report, compiled for the tribunal by Leiden University and Justice for Iran, is already due to be sent to the International Criminal Court.
Earlier in the week, European sources told the organizers of the Aban Tribunal that Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Ali Bagheri Kani, also took issue with the Aban Tribunal during a meeting with the British Foreign Office ministers on Wednesday.
Bagheri Kani, was in the UK as part of a concessions-seeking tour ahead of the next round of JCPOA talks in Vienna. He reportedly told his British counterparts that Iran would suspend an unspecified “part” of the nuclear talks if the Aban Tribunal was not called off. He reportedly also demanded to know why “terrorists” were being allowed to hold such an event in London.
On Thursday Iranian human rights activist Masih Alinejad, who had flown in from New York to testify at the Aban Tribunal, called on the UK government to shut down the Iranian Embassy in the capital until all hostages being held in Iran were released. As she was filming in front of the embassy doors, police told her the site was “private property” and asked her to leave.