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Iranian diplomat, 3 others sentenced for foiled 2018 bomb plot

By Jean Lotus
Iranian diplomat, 3 others sentenced for foiled 2018 bomb plot
Iranian diplomat Asadollah Assadi, pictured on a poster during a rally of exiled Iranian dissidents in 2018, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday over a failed bomb attack in France three years ago. File Photo by Olivier Hoslet/EPA-EFE

Feb. 1 (UPI) -- A Belgian court on Thursday sentenced an Iranian diplomat to 20 years in prison stemming from a foiled bomb plot in France three years ago.

Assadollah Assadi, who was based at the Iranian consulate in Vienna, was arrested in 2018 after the failed plot to detonate explosives at a rally of an exiled Iranian opposition group.

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He was ultimately convicted on charges of attempted terrorist murder and participating with a terrorist group.

Thursday's sentence is the first a European criminal court has given an Iranian diplomat.

Specifically, Assadi was convicted of providing explosive material, bomb-making instructions and paying a Belgian couple of Iranian heritage to set off the bomb at the rally.

Belgian authorities later arrested Amir Saadouni and wife Nasimeh Naami and found the explosives and a detonator in their vehicle. A third accomplice, a lookout, was also convicted.

All three were sentenced Thursday to between 15 and 18 years and will lose their Belgian citizenship.

Investigators said Assadi was believed to be an employee of the Iranian intelligence ministry MOIS, which monitors opposition groups.

Assadi's attorneys argued at trial that diplomatic immunity protected him from arrest and extradition, but a judge ruled that such immunity didn't protect him outside of Austria.

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The Iranian government considers the exiled opposition group that staged the rally near Paris, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a terrorist organization.

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