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Australia weighing ICJ genocide incitement lawsuit against Iran president

[JURIST] Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd [official profile] told Australian news service Sky News Wednesday that his government is considering bringing a lawsuit against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [official profile; BBC profile] in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [court website; JURIST news archive] for alleged incitement of genocide. Rudd characterized [ABC Australia report] some of Ahmadinejad's comments in recent years regarding Israel and Zionism and denying the Jewish Holocaust as "anti-Semitic" and encouraging international violence. Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland confirmed [Australian report] Rudd's comments. Australian press reports last October claimed that Rudd had promised the country's Jewish community in the lead-up to elections that brought him to power in December that he would take Ahmadinejad before the ICJ. Opposition Liberal Party spokesmen say, however, that the legal case against Ahmadinejad is weak, citing an assessment by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court [official website]. AFP has more.

In December 2006, then-US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton called for international criminal charges [JURIST report] against Ahmadinejad for the same reasons. Bolton, who was joined by former Israeli UN Ambassador Dore Gold [JCPA profile] and former Canadian Justice Minister and Attorney General Irwin Cotler [official profile], said that Ahmadinejad's remarks violated the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide [text], which prohibits "direct and public incitement to commit genocide". In May 2006, the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs reported that it was preparing a document [JURIST report] recommending a lawsuit against Ahmadinejad for his remarks. Israeli lawyer Eran Shahar, representing the civil rights group Civil Coalition, filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against Ahmadinejad in Germany in February 2006 on charges of incitement and denying the existence of the Holocaust.

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