Belgian Constitutional Court halts exchange of diplomat Assadollah Assadi accused of terrorism

Demonstration in front of the headquarters of the Belgian Ministry of Justice to protest against the extradition of Assadollah Assadi. – NICOLAS LANDEMARD / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

MADRID, (EUROPA PRESS) Belgium’s Constitutional Court on Thursday halted a controversial prisoner exchange with Iran involving Iranian diplomat convicted of terrorism Assadollah Assadi.

The sentence paralyzes the extradition of Assadi to Iran and annuls the corresponding agreement between both countries to make an exchange with the Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, imprisoned since February 2022 and who has recently started a hunger strike because of the «inhuman treatment» to which he is being subjected.

The court ruling has argued that the exchange violated the rights of the victims of Assadi, who had been sentenced to twenty years in prison for preparing together with Iran an attack against a group of opponents who had planned to meet in June 2018 in a French city near Paris.

In that regard, the Constitutional holds that Iran could not be trusted to execute the sentence Assadi, who was accredited as a diplomat at the Iranian embassy in Vienna, the Belgian news agency reports.

The decision of the Belgian Constitutional Court is the last stage of a long judicial process in the country’s courts, after another ruling in October had lifted the ban on this extradition.

The exchange was part of an agreement between Brussels and Tehran which, despite strong public criticism, was approved by Parliament in July.