Iranian Envoy drops appeal with Belgium authority

Foreign Desk Report

ANTWERP: An Iranian diplomat sentenced to 20 years in prison for planning a bomb attack in France has dropped an appeal in Belgium and will serve his sentence, his representative said on Wednesday. Belgian authorities have said they will oppose any potential swap deal with Western prisoners, lawyers said.
Assadolah Assadi was found guilty of attempted terrorism in February after a foiled plot to bomb a 2018 rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a French-based dissident group. It was the first time an Iranian official had been tried for suspected terrorism in Europe since Iran’s 1979 revolution.
“This has been a political trial since the beginning and he does not want to participate any longer,” Assadi’s lawyer Dimitri de Beco told reporters in Antwerp, where he was sentenced on Feb. 4.
Judges had ruled that diplomatic immunity as third counsellor at Iran’s embassy in Vienna did not protect Assadi from charges of using the post for state-sponsored terrorism. In its ruling, the Belgian court said he ran a state intelligence network. Assadi bought explosives for the Paris plot with him on a commercial flight to Austria from Iran, it said.
Iran’s mission to the EU said that Belgium had broken international law and that Tehran reserved the right to resort to all legal mechanisms.
Assadi did not attend his court hearings or sentencing, which was held behind closed doors in high security. He was arrested in Germany but Belgium agreed to hold the sensitive trial because two of the other suspects were Belgian-Iranian nationals and were arrested in Belgium.