The Belgian Constitutional Court “suspends” a deal with Iran on the exchange of prisoners


The “suspension” of the law is a preliminary step to the eventual annulment of the agreement. The decision of the Constitutional Court is expected within three months.

The Belgian Constitutional Court announced on Thursday that it had “suspended” the validity of a controversial Belgian-Iranian deal, which was believed to have paved the way for the exchange of an Iranian diplomat convicted of “terrorism” in Belgium in 2021 for a jailed Belgian aid worker. unnecessary in the Islamic Republic this year.

“There is currently no longer a legal basis to allow the transfer,” François Toulquen, who on behalf of Iranian rebels appealed to the highest judicial body against a law passed on July 30, 2022 that included the deal, told AFP.

The “suspension” of the law is a preliminary step to the eventual annulment of the agreement. The Constitutional Court is expected to rule within three months on the issue, the lawyer explained.

Diplomat Asadullah Asadi, who is said to actually be an Iranian intelligence officer, was sentenced in February 2021 by a court in Antwerp (north) to serve 20 years in prison.

He was found guilty of instigating, with the help of his Belgian-Iranian accomplices, a plan to carry out a bomb attack on 30 June 2018 aimed at the annual gathering in France of the National Council of Iranian Resistance (Conseil national de la résistance iranienne, CNRI), an alliance of opponents of the regime of Tehran.

The government of Iran has denounced the specific judicial process, arguing in particular that the Belgian judiciary violated Mr. Asadi’s diplomatic immunity. The latter, when the events for which he was accused unfolded, was serving in the Iranian embassy in Vienna.

Mr Assadi did not appeal the Antwerp court’s decision and his conviction has become final.

Over the summer, there was an uproar in Belgium when Justice Minister Vincent van Quickenborn tabled in parliament, under an urgent procedure, a deal struck in March between Brussels and Tehran on “the transfer of convicted persons”.

The minister presented this text as the only way to secure the release and repatriation of Olivier Vandekastel, a member of a Belgian humanitarian organization who was unnecessarily arrested in Tehran on 24 February.

The bill was passed, despite the outcry.

The CNRI, part of the civil suit in the Antwerp trial, called the deal “cut and sewn” to transfer Mr Asadi to Tehran after the possible pardon. Appeals were filed in the Belgian courts.

In its ruling yesterday, the Constitutional Court appeared to embrace the arguments put forward by the Iranian opposition parties, ruling that the deal posed a “risk of serious damage” to them that would be “difficult to repair”.

Without mentioning Mr Assad by name, the court said Belgium “must know whether”, should the deal to extradite an Iranian convicted of terrorism be implemented, the Iranian authorities “will carry out the sentence” imposed on him. has been imposed.

Mariam Rajavi, the president of the CNRI, saw a “victory” in yesterday’s decision.

This is the latest episode of a legal thriller with plenty of twists in Belgium. A previous ruling, in October, lifted the ban on Mr Asadi’s extradition.


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