This article is part of our series that explores Tehran’s terror activities and Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi‘s role in a bombing plot against the opposition rally in Paris in June 2018.
It was previously thought that dictators would only see justice after the fall of their regime. However, the trial of Assadollah Assadi, a Vienna-based Iranian diplomat, and his accomplices held in Antwerp, Belgium, proved otherwise.
Today, December 3, a Belgian court held its second hearing over the bomb plot against the annual gathering of the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in June 2018.
According to media reports, in a joint counterterrorism operation, European prosecutors from Belgium, Germany, and France disbanded a terror squad commanded by Assadi. German police detained the Iranian diplomat when he was on the route to Austria while Belgian and French authorities had arrested his accomplices before.
The Iranian regime did its best to evade Assadi from prosecution. The ayatollahs hired the best attorneys and argued that the court lacks competence due to Assadi’s diplomatic status. Eventually, Assadi did not attend either the first hearing or the second.
In response, attorneys of the NCRI and other plaintiffs, who are potential victims of the plot, reasoned that “A diplomatic status does not grant permission to individuals to walk in the streets and gun down passersby.”
At the end of the first hearing session, Belgian prosecutors asked the court for a 20-year sentence for Assadi, 18 years for Amir Saadouni and Nasimeh Naami, and 15 years for Mehrdad Arefani.
The prosecutors also called for the Belgian citizenship of Sadouni, Na’ami, and Arefani to be revoked. They stressed that the three defendants used Belgian nationality to facilitate their evil deed and bring about a disaster, which is an affront to the Belgian constitution.
According to the prosecutor’s request, since the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) sponsored the attack, all money the terrorists had received must be confiscated. Notably, While the terrorists were receiving welfare from the Belgian government, Sadouni and Na’ami had two vehicles and were able to rent two apartments. Na’ami had 120,000 euros in her bank account and 35,000 euros in cash at her home.
The prosecutor reiterated that the main target of the attack was Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the NCRI, and the keynote speaker of the Free Iran rally 2018. After personally delivering the bomb to Sadouni and Na’ami in Luxembourg, Assadi had instructed them to plant it as close to the location Rajavi would be sitting at the event. “She is the main target. If you can’t plant the bomb, bring it back,” Assadi had said.
In a slide deck presented at the trial, the prosecutor revealed the key facts about the bombing plot, including details about actions taken by Assadi and his accomplices in the months and weeks that led to the Free Iran rally 2018. The events of the last few days were shown in details and with visual evidence.
The prosecutor underlined that all obtained evidence shows that Assadi was commanding the terrorist operation and his prosecution is necessary for Belgium’s own security.
While presenting the details about Assadi’s arrest in Germany, the prosecutor stressed that Austria, where Assadi’s diplomatic mission is located, can’t object to his arrest because he was apprehended outside of Austria and according to international law, he did not have diplomatic immunity.
On December 3, the attorneys of the defendants had compiled their defense based on downplaying the crime. They tried to convince the judges that their clients were unaware of the bomb capacity and believed it would not harm anyone. They also laid approximately all the blames on Assadollah Assadi, claiming the Iranian diplomat had abused and misled them.
They also appealed to the court not to revoke their clients’ citizenship, arguing it would place them at risk of execution if they were extradited to Iran. The attorneys reckoned that in this case, the court would have violated their human rights.
However, they did not consider around 100,000 attendees whose lives were at risk. Furthermore, if the defendants’ lives were at risk, they would never succumb to the ayatollahs’ evil plan to murder uncountable innocent people. Instead, since 2012, when the MOIS hired them, they should have revealed the regime’s ominous plot and espionage mission to target members and supporters of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
In a press conference held before the trial session, Farzin Hashemi, member of the NCRI’s Foreign Affairs Committee, briefly explained the case. “we believe it is now time for an international tribunal to be set up and to prosecute the leaders of the regime, who are the true masterminds of hundreds of terrorist acts around the world,” he said.
Furthermore, the NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi emphasized the role of Iranian high-ranking officials in the plot. “This case once again shows that as far as terrorism and its usage as a ruling tool is concerned, there is no difference between the regime’s various agencies, including between the Intelligence Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Khamenei’s office, and Rouhani’s office,” Maryam Rajavi tweeted.
This case once again shows that as far as terrorism and its usage as a ruling tool is concerned, there is no difference between the regime’s various agencies, including between the Intelligence Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Khamenei’s office and Rouhani’s office. #Iran
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) December 3, 2020
She called on the European leaders to designate the MOIS as a terrorist entity and expel all the regime’s agents from European soil. “The European Union must designate the mullahs’ IRGC and Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) as terrorist entities.”
“Agents and mercenaries of the MOIS and Qods Force must be prosecuted, punished and expelled from Europe and their citizenship revoked. Granting them citizenship and political asylum these agents would only pave the way for further terrorism,” Maryam Rajavi added.