15 members of the Belgium parliament took part in the initiative
On Friday, November 27, a trial began in Antwerp, Belgium for Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi and three of his accomplices in a 2018 terror plot. In the wake of that, 240 lawmakers from 18 European parliaments, including Belgium, and the European Parliament issued a statement today addressed to the EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell. It demanded that continuation of relations with Iran be made contingent upon necessary guarantees from Tehran to put an end to its terrorist acts on European soil.
The signatories represent a wide range of political attitudes and affiliation, and their initiative stressed that the ongoing terrorism trial should spark multilateral efforts to demand accountability not only from the perpetrators but also from their handlers in Tehran.
“Apart from the judicial process, which is independently underway in Belgium, we believe it is time to reconsider dealing with the Iranian state terrorism,” the statement said. “Considering the Iranian regime’s use of diplomatic cover to carry out terrorist acts, the necessary practical warnings should be given to Tehran, such as the closure of its embassies and the expulsion of its ambassadors and diplomats.”
The statement cited the 1997 Declaration of the European Union that Tehran’s intelligence agents, who have used the cover of diplomats, journalists, and businessmen to conduct operations inside the EU, should be expelled. It further argued that the regime’s religious and cultural front institutions in Europe have served as centres of terrorism and fundamentalism, and should be closed.
The four defendants in Friday’s hearing are charged with plotting to bomb the international gathering in support of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which was held in a Paris suburb on June 30, 2018. The next session of the trial is scheduled for December 3.
While Assadi was working as a senior diplomat at the Iranian embassy in Vienna, he was also a senior officer of the notorious Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). He is now the first Iranian diplomat to ever stand trial on terrorism charges in Europe.
There are 25 party civils in the case, including a number of the European parliamentarians who have since joined the effort to require serious anti-terrorism commitments from the Iranian regime.
In July, the annual report of the German Federal Security Service said of Assadi: “An official diplomat of the Iranian Embassy in Austria was arrested on July 1, 2018 in Germany on a European arrest warrant issued by the authorities of Belgian public prosecutor’s office. He is accused, as a full-time employee of the Ministry of Intelligence, of being the commander of a planned bomb attack against the annual meeting of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran near Paris on June 30, 2018.”
The People’s Mojahedin is the leading opposition group among the coalition that makes up the NCRI. Maryam Rajavi, is designated by the NCRI to serve as a transitional president when Iran’s theocratic regime is overthrown by the Iranian people.
“In addition to tens of thousands of Iranians, the opposition leader Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the primary target of the conspiracy, was present at the rally, along with several hundred political figures from various countries,” the European MPs’ statement read. “Had this terrorist operation succeeded, it would have undoubtedly left hundreds killed and many more wounded.”
During the first session in the trial related to that operation, the prosecutors stressed the role of the Iranian regime, especially Ministry of Intelligence and Security as a terrorist entity and added that the intention of the operation was to inflict maximum killing.
In their indictment, prosecutors called on the court to sentence Assadi to 20 years, which is the maximum sentence according to the law. A sentence of 18 years was recommended for two defendants who were assigned to bomb the even, and 15 years for a fourth accomplice. The court was also asked to withdraw the Belgian nationality of the latter three defendants.