A Belgian court on Thursday convicted an Iranian diplomat of attempted terrorism over his role in a thwarted attack in 2018, a verdict likely to worsen relations between Brussels and Tehran.
Assadollah Assadi was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in a bomb plot targeting a rally by opponents of the Iranian regime in France.
Three accomplices — a Belgian-Iranian couple caught with explosives in their car on the day of the rally and another Belgian-Iranian man meant to guide the couple once in France — were also given jail sentences.
Vienna-based Assadi had been accused of using his diplomatic privileges to help move explosives from Austria to Luxembourg, where they were handed to the couple. He was arrested at a gas station in Germany while on his way back to Austria.
During the trial, he refused to testify and invoked his diplomatic status. His lawyer said Assadi contested all charges, the Associated Press reported.
Critics of the Iranian regime as well as the head of the Belgian state security service have said Tehran masterminded the plot, which the country has denied.
“The ruling shows two things. A diplomat doesn’t have immunity for criminal acts … and the responsibility of the Iranian state in what could have been carnage,” Georges-Henri Beauthier, a prosecution lawyer, told Reuters after the verdict.
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