Belgian court sentences Iranian diplomat for 20 years over bomb plot

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A Belgian court on Thursday sentenced for 20 years an Iranian diplomat for plotting a thwarted 2018 bombing of an opposition rally outside the French capital and Paris.

Belgian prosecution lawyers and civil parties to the prosecution said the Vienna-based diplomat, Assadolah Assadi, was guilty of attempted “terrorism” after a plot to bomb a rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in June 2018 was foiled by German, French and Belgian police.

“The ruling shows two things: A diplomat doesn’t have immunity for criminal acts … and the responsibility of the Iranian state in what could have been carnage,” Belgian prosecution lawyer, Georges-Henri Beauthier told journalists outside the court in Antwerp.

The ruling marked the first trial of an Iranian official for suspected “terrorism” in the European Union since Iran’s revolution in 1979.

Assadollah Assadi, now 49, was attached to the Iranian mission in Austria when he supplied explosives for the planned attack. He was arrested in Germany, where he did not have diplomatic immunity.

Three accomplices were given jail terms and were stripped of their Belgian citizenship.

Belgian-Iranian couple Nasimeh Naami, 36-year-old, and Amir Saadouni, 40-year-old, accepted from Assadi half a kilogramme (one pound) of TATP explosives and a detonator.

Naami received an 18-year sentence and Saadouni 15 years.

Belgium-based Iranian poet, Mehrdad Arefani was an accomplice of Assadi’s who had been due to guide the couple at the rally. He was jailed for 17 years.

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