LONDON: A Vienna-based diplomat and Iranian intelligence operative has been found guilty by a Belgian court of planning to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in 2018.
Assadollah Assadi was sentenced to 20 years in jail for his role in planning the attack – the maximum sentence requested by prosecutors.
Three accomplices – Amir Saadouni, Nasimeh Naami and Mehrdad Arefani – were given between 15 and 18 years each. Saadouni and Arefani also had their Belgian citizenship revoked.
Assadi had attempted to invoke diplomatic protection to avoid prosecution, but a judge strongly rejected this defense.
The judge said diplomatic immunity does not protect him from prosecution in a country that he was not assigned to for a diplomatic mission.
The Antwerp court also found that there was no doubt that the terrorists were following orders from the regime in Tehran.
The verdict said Assadi’s bomb was built in Iran and smuggled into Europe using a diplomatic bag to evade security measures.
Crowds waiting outside the court received the verdict with elation, and some called for the closure of the Iranian diplomatic mission in Belgium.