Tehran, Iran – Iranian state media says Belgium sentenced an Iranian diplomat to a 20-year jail sentence with inadequate proof, in what they’ve branded a politicised case.
Asadollah Assadi, the third secretary of Iran’s embassy in Austria, was sentenced to 20 years in jail in February 2021 by a court docket in Antwerp, Belgium.
Assadi, 50, was accused by the Belgian authorities of organising – on behalf of Iranian intelligence – three accomplices to plant a bomb at a gathering of the Individuals’s Mojahedin Group of Iran (often known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK), a Europe-based opposition group, in Villepinte close to Paris in June 2018.
Assadi was discovered responsible by a Belgian court docket and sentenced to 20 years.
The sentence was confirmed in Might 2021 after Assadi refused to file an enchantment, as he has contested the legitimacy of the Belgian justice system.
State-run IRNA information company final week stated Asadollah Assadi’s trial and sentencing was “a totally preplanned situation” constructed on shaky grounds. The semi-official Tasnim information company revealed an identical report through which it stated that the MEK had framed Assadi.
“Based mostly on reviews from Assadi’s lawyer, the function of this terrorist organisation [MEK] in forging a case towards the Iranian diplomat is obvious – particularly because it got here when Iran’s president was on a go to to Austria,” Tasnim stated, referencing former President Hassan Rouhani’s July 2018 journey to the European nation.
Each shops revealed photos of purported proof and sought to painting how the MEK was concerned.
Iran has designated the organisation a “terrorist” group, accusing it of finishing up bombing assaults and assassinations and invading Iranian soil with army assist from Saddam Hussein through the eight-year Iran-Iraq Conflict within the 1980s.
Assadi’s alleged accomplices, 41-year-old Amir Saadouni, 37-year-old Nasimeh Naami, and 58-year-old Mehrdad Arefani, have testified towards him. Assadi has maintained that he doesn’t know them.
Belgian authorities say Saadouni and Naami, a Belgian couple of Iranian origin, have been carrying 500 grammes of triacetone triperoxide (TATP) explosives and a detonator of their car on their option to Villepinte on the time of their arrest in Belgium in 2018.
Arefani was arrested concurrently in Villepinte. On the request of Belgian authorities, Assadi was arrested in Germany, the place he didn’t have diplomatic immunity.
The newest improvement within the case got here earlier this month when a Belgian court docket dismissed the three alleged accomplices’ appeals.
The court docket upheld Naami and Arefani’s respective sentences of 18 and 17 years in jail and elevated Saadouni’s sentence from 15 to 18 years.
“All the pieces was meticulously ready beforehand and the modus operandi for use was additionally mentioned intimately,” the court docket stated, according to Belgian media, additionally ruling there was little doubt that Assadi and the three alleged accomplices labored for Iranian intelligence.
The Iranian media shops have stated the alleged accomplices have been brokers of the MEK, a declare the organisation has beforehand denied.
However MEK supporters repeatedly staged gatherings and protests in entrance of Belgian courts the place the defendants have been current, had a delegation current within the court docket, and referred to as on authorities to shut down Iranian embassies and expel diplomats.
The semi-official Tasnim web site revealed photos purportedly exhibiting Saadouni and Naami at an undated MEK rally.
It additionally revealed purported court docket paperwork exhibiting that Assadi argued throughout his court docket periods in Antwerp that the Nationwide Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the umbrella organisation of the MEK, is a “terrorist” organisation.
In line with the paperwork, the court docket finally dominated that it mustn’t make an evaluation in regards to the ethical grounds of the organisation since “neither the organisation nor its sister organisations are on trial right here”.
Tasnim additionally pointed to occasions in 2003 when, below orders, a number of MEK members self-immolated in varied European capitals to protest the arrests of their chief Maryam Rajavi and others on fees of cash laundering and fraud that have been finally dropped.
The European Union and the USA beforehand listed MEK as a “terrorist” organisation. After promising to resign violence, it was delisted by the EU and the US in 2009 and 2012 respectively.
Iran questions proof
In the meantime, the Iranian authorities’s web site has revealed the picture of a purported German police report detailing gadgets present in Assadi’s car when he was arrested in Bavaria whereas on vacation.
The report makes no point out of residue from an explosive system, whereas IRNA stated the TATP Assadi had allegedly handed to his accomplices ought to have left a hint.
When contacted by Al Jazeera, the Bundeskriminalamt – the German Federal Prison Police – neither confirmed nor denied the accuracy of the report, saying it can not disclose details about the case to 3rd events.
IRNA additionally claimed that no traces of explosives or unlawful possessions have been discovered at Assadi’s residence in Vienna.
The outlet additionally referenced a 2019 interview with the Osterreich Heute newspaper, through which an Austria Airways spokesperson denied claims by Belgian authorities that Assadi had carried bomb elements in a diplomatic case on board a business aircraft.
The Austrian overseas ministry was contacted by Al Jazeera for touch upon this story however didn’t reply.
Nevertheless, an Austria Airways spokesperson informed Al Jazeera that their spokespersons from 2019 are not with the corporate, so they can not affirm or deny whether or not the interview came about. They declined to touch upon the corporate’s present stance on the claims made by the prosecutor in Assadi’s Belgian court docket case.
Lastly, IRNA revealed photos that purported to point out the Belgian intelligence and safety service had tried to hack and achieve entry to Assadi’s administrative electronic mail tackle, which belongs to the Iranian overseas ministry.
A spokesperson for the Belgian overseas ministry informed Al Jazeera: “The Ministry of International Affairs received’t be reacting to this story”.
The case of Assadi and the allegation that Iranian intelligence was behind the bombing plot proceed to pressure Iran’s relations with European international locations, a few of that are additionally concerned in efforts to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear take care of world powers.
Iran has repeatedly condemned European international locations for internet hosting the MEK, which moved its base from Iraq to Albania over the past decade and holds occasions throughout the continent.
For its half, the Iranian overseas ministry has maintained that Assadi’s case constitutes a violation of the Vienna Conference on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, as Iran claims Assadi was an harmless diplomat who was arrested regardless of his diplomatic immunity. Nevertheless, as Belgian authorities discovered Assadi responsible of organising a bomb plot, they don’t imagine he ought to take pleasure in diplomatic immunity.
Iran additionally summoned Belgium’s envoy in Tehran after Assadi’s arrest to specific its robust condemnation in February 2021.
A number of European international locations have condemned the arrest of their residents or twin nationals of Iranian origin over the previous few years, totally on fees associated to espionage, denouncing the fees as arbitrary.
Earlier this month, France strongly condemned the arrest of two of its residents on charges of fomenting teachers’ protests.
One other ongoing contentious case entails prisoners in Iran and Sweden.
Iranian-born Swedish educational Ahmadreza Djalali is awaiting execution in Iran on fees of spying for Israel resulting in the assassination of nuclear scientists.
Iranian officers have dominated out an alternate of prisoners, saying Djalali’s sentence is “ultimate”.
Amnesty Worldwide stated there was mounting proof Iran was protecting Djalali hostage in an effort to drive Belgium and Sweden handy over Assadi and one other ex-official, Hamid Nouri.
“The Iranian authorities are utilizing Ahmadreza Djalali’s life as a pawn in a merciless political recreation, escalating their threats to execute him in retaliation for his or her calls for going unmet,” Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Center East and North Africa stated on Might 19.
In the meantime, Iran’s overseas ministry earlier this month summoned Sweden’s envoy to strongly protest a life imprisonment sentence for ex-official Hamid Nouri, who’s accused of human rights abuses.