SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 17 June 2021, Thursday | النسخة العربية

Iran Diplomat Drops Appeal to Prison in Belgium

An Iranian diplomat sentenced to 20 years in prison for planning to bomb a 2018 meeting of an exiled opposition group in France has dropped his appeal in Belgium and will serve a prison sentence, lawyers said on Wednesday.

Assadolah Assadi was found guilty of attempted terrorism in February after a foiled plot to bomb a rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, in Villepinte, near Paris in June 2018.

Assadi decided not to appeal, his lawyer told reporters in Antwerp, the Belgian city where he was sentenced on Feb. 4.

“For me, it stops here. My client does not recognize the competency of Belgian justice to judge him,” Assadi’s lawyer Dimitri de Beco said.

He said that as the third counsellor at Iran’s embassy in Vienna, Assadi had diplomatic immunity.

However, in February, judges ruled that any diplomatic immunity did not protect him from facing terrorism charges.

Assadi did not attend his court hearings or sentencing, which was held behind closed doors in high security.

Assadi was arrested in Germany in July 2018 before being transferred to Belgium for trial. In its ruling, the Belgium court said he was running an Iranian state intelligence network and was acting on orders from Tehran.

Three accomplices, dual Iranian-Belgians, were given jail terms of between 15 and 18 years and stripped of their Belgian citizenship.

Prosecution lawyer Georges-Henri Beauthier said in Antwerp Wednesday there were guarantees from the Belgium state that there would be no swap of Assadi for Western prisoners in Iran, citing a separation of powers between justice and political decisions.

“The Belgian government will not discuss (a prisoner swap),” he said.