Iran envoy jailed for 20 years over bomb plot

An Iranian diplomat accused of planning to bomb a meeting of an exiled opposition group in France in 2018 was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday (February 4).

Prosecution lawyers from Belgium and other civil parties said Vienna-based diplomat Assadolah Assadi was guilty of attempted terrorism, after a foiled plot to bomb a rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran near Paris in June 2018.

It brings to an end the first trial of an Iranian official for suspected terrorism offences in Europe since Iran's 1979 revolution.

Lawyer for the prosecution Georges-Henri Beauthier spoke to reporters outside the court in Antwerp after the verdict.

"A diplomat can't do just anything, he has an immunity of function not an immunity for criminal and terrorist acts he's committed. The second fundamental thing is to recognize the responsibility of the Iranian state. The Iranian state is considered responsible. It is not the cause, but it's responsible for its services, implicated in this tribunal in what could have been carnage of several thousands of people that could have been killed."

No media were allowed into the heavily guarded courtroom, where three other Iranians were sentenced to 15, 17, and 18 years respectively for their role as accomplices.

In March, he warned authorities of possible retaliation by unidentified groups if he is found guilty, according to a police document obtained by Reuters.

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly denied involvement in the foiled plot, saying that Assadi's diplomatic immunity had been violated in a Western trap.