TEHRAN— After the Belgian Court of Antwerp sentenced Asadollah Asadi, an Iranian diplomat to 20 years of jail, the Iranian Embassy in Belgium released a statement condemning the sentence and questioned the authority of the Belgian court.
The statement released by the Iranian Embassy reads as follows:
“In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful
The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Brussels refers to its previous Press Release dated 4 February 2021 on the verdict of the Court of Antwerp in the case of the Iranian diplomat, and seizes the occasion to state the following regarding the current developments:
As stated in the previous Press Release, the Islamic Republic of Iran has strongly protested the violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) by Germany and Belgium, and deems the actions on the part of the said governments to be a stark contravention of customary international law and established diplomatic practices.
The verdict of the Court of Antwerp of 4 February 2021 indicated that the Belgian judicial system does not heed the binding nature of commitments under the Vienna Convention. The Islamic Republic of Iran has officially rejected the Belgian court’s competence in two Note Verbales to Belgium and Germany on the grounds of the court’s violation of the immunity of Mr. Asadi’s person as a diplomat under the 1961 Convention.
In line with the above notes, the Islamic Republic of Iran reserves the right to resort to all legal mechanisms, including the Vienna Convention’s optional protocol concerning the compulsory settlement of disputes.”
Asadollah Asadi is an Iranian diplomat, who was arrested while returning to his residence in Austria on a highway in the German state of Bavaria on June 10, 2018. He was accused of being involved in an attempted bombing at a gathering of the so-called National Council of Resistance of Iran (a Mojahedin-e-Khalgh organization branch) in Villepinte, north of Paris.
On February 4, 2021, Asadi was sentenced to 20 years in prison for “attempted murder and involvement in terrorism.”
Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, had condemned the verdict, stating that “the Islamic Republic of Iran strongly condemns the announcement of the Belgian Court of Antwerp to issue a 20-year prison sentence for Asadi”
He had said that Belgium and some European countries are heavily influenced by the MEK.
He had noted that as Iran has stated several times, all stages of Asadi’s detention, the judicial process, the issuance of the recent sentence are illegal and in flagrant violation of international law, particularly the provisions of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
The international community considers the MEK a terrorist group. Its members jointed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in the war against Iran in the 1980.
For decades, the infamous group has carried out various attacks against Iranian civilians and government officials.
Following concerted lobbying by groups affiliated with Saudi Arabia and other regimes hostile to Iran, the U.S. State Department removed the MEK from its list of designated terrorist organizations in 2012