France drops case against Iranian opposition after 11-year probe
Counter-terrorism investigative judge of Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered all charges against the Iranian Resistance dropped putting an end to an infamous case that that started by the absurd allegation of terrorism and financing terrorism, and in the absence of any evidence was diverted to financial charges such as money laundering and fraud. The French judicial system has stipulated that there is no evidence for the financial allegations either.
The news of the decision was widely covered by the international media. Bellow is excerpts of the reports by a selection of news agencies:
The Associated Press:
French judges have thrown out terrorism-linked charges against nine members of an exiled Iranian opposition group, closing the last part of a case that began 11 years ago with mass arrests that provoked several deaths by protesters setting themselves afire.
The Paris prosecutor's office confirmed Wednesday the case against the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq was closed.
The co-leader of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, Maryam Rajavi said the decision was a "victory of justice and resistance over collaboration" between France and Iran.
Rajavi was among more than 150 detained in a sweep in 2003 around the group's headquarters in Auvers-Sur-Oise, outside Paris. She and 16 others were charged on suspicion of planning terrorist acts and terror financing. Rajavi was later released, and charges against her dropped.
An investigation for "financial infractions" was then opened against nine group members, but those charges were thrown out due to insufficient evidence, according to a statement by seven top lawyers handling the case.
"The justice (system) was manipulated by political and commercial considerations," said William Bourdon, one of the lawyers. "This case never should have existed."
Twenty-four people were originally placed under formal investigation, including Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the PMOI's political wing, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), on suspicion of "associating with wrongdoers in relation with a terrorist undertaking".
But that judicial investigation lost momentum and many of the restrictions on the suspects' movement were lifted in 2006 with only nine still investigated for possible money laundering.
The NCRI has repeatedly denied they had committed any wrongdoing accusing the Iranian government of working with French intelligence to taint the group.
"A case is now closed, but a new case will have to be opened ," Rajavi, who has sought to rebrand the Paris-based group as a potential opposition force in Iran, said in a statement.
"The real criminals, who were involved in this dirty deal, those who ordered the arrests and ridiculed French justice for their political and economic interests, will have to face justice," she said.
The Paris prosecutor's office confirmed all charges had been dropped.
One of the PMOI's lawyers, William Bourdon, told Reuters he had rarely seen a case last this long.
"The scrupulous action of (anti-terrorism judge) Trevidic put an end to this serious failing, if not compliance, of the French justice with the manipulation of the Mullahs," he said.
Tehran has long called for a crackdown on the NCRI.