Former Iranian Diplomat Not Appealing 20-Year Belgian Jail Sentence
Assadollah Assadi, the former third secretary of the Iranian embassy in Vienna convicted in Belgium of planning a 2018 bomb attack in France, will not appeal a 20-year prison sentence, his Belgian lawyer, Dmitiri de Beco, told Iran International in Antwerp on Wednesday [May 5].
The former Iranian diplomat, his lawyer said, did not consider the Belgian judicial system competent to try him in what had been a “political trial.” Assadi had not endorsed appeal forms de Beco had prepared, the lawyer said. The former Iranian diplomat refused to attend his trial, held behind closed doors in Belgium, and has always argued he had diplomatic immunity – a claim dismissed by the court on the grounds he was on holiday outside the country where he was posted
Assadi, 49, was sentenced in February for masterminding a failed bombing attack on a rally in Paris organized by Albania-based Iranian opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). He was accused of smuggling explosives on a commercial flight from Iran to Austria.
Belgian officials testified in court that Assadi handed the explosives over at a Pizza Hut restaurant in Luxembourg to Amir Saadouni, 40, and his wife, Nassimeh Naami, 36, who had been granted political asylum in Belgium and later granted Belgian nationality. Saadouni and Naami were among three accomplices, all dual Iranian-Belgians, given jail terms between 15 and 18 years for their role in the plot.
Belgian police foiled the attack on June 30, 2018 after a tipoff from Israeli intelligence, stopping the couple while traveling in a Mercedes car in which they found 550 grams of triacetone triperoxide explosive and a detonator hidden in luggage in the boot.
The discovery of Assadi's coded ledger and another ledger containing receipts for cash payments of thousands of euros in January led to a wider investigation by the German Federal Crime Agency and intelligence agencies.
Iran has called the Paris attack allegations a “false flag” stunt by the MEK, which was previously allied to Saddam Hussein and which it continues a ‘terrorist’ group. The MEK has described talks with Iran in Vienna designed to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement as “appeasement” while its leader Maryam Rajavi has demanded the European Union, whose representative chairs the Vienna talks, sanction the Iranian intelligence ministry.
Representing the MEK in the case, lawyer Georges-Henri Beauthier said there had been guarantees from the Belgian state that there would be no swap of Assadi for western prisoners in Iran, citing a separation of powers between justice and political decisions.