Belgian court convicts Iranian diplomat of attempted bombing
Thursday, 04 February 2021
Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi, who has been convicted for his role in a foiled terrorist attack, was given a 20-year prison sentence by the criminal court in Antwerp on Thursday. The Vienna-based official plotted to bomb a rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the political wing of the exiled Iranian opposition, near Paris in June 2018. Assadi, who was arrested while on holiday in Germany and was later handed over to Belgium, refused to appear in court and is claiming diplomatic immunity, according to his lawyer, Dimitri de Beco. However, lawyers representing participants in the 2018 rally argued that his immunity is not applicable in his involvement in the planned attacks, as Assadi was outside Austria at the time of his arrest.
The organised bombing of the rally was thwarted by an operation coordinated by Belgian, French, and German security services.
The other three defendants on trial include the Belgian-Iranian couple Amir S. and Nasimeh N. from Wilrijk, and Mehrdad A, who were given sentences between 15 to 18 years. They will all lose their Belgian nationality. The couple was stopped by the police in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre in Brussels at the end of June 2018, carrying 500 grams of explosives and had an ignition mechanism in their car to carry out the attack later that day. Assadi, who allegedly coordinated the operation from the Iranian embassy in Vienna, gave them the explosive.
The charges and the allegations made by the NCRI have been repeatedly denied by Iran, which considers it a terrorist group. This lawsuit signifies a historic event, as it is the first trial of an Iranian official for suspected terrorism in the European Union since Iran’s 1979 revolution, causing tension with Europe.
In March, Assadi warned authorities that unidentified groups may carry out possible retaliation if he was found guilty, according to a police document seen by Reuters.