Iran: "Mykonos" Trial Provides Further Evidence of Iranian Policy of Unlawful State Killings
April 10, 1997
AI INDEX: MDE 13/15/97
10 APRIL 1997 IRAN: “MYKONOS” TRIAL PROVIDES
FURTHER EVIDENCE OF IRANIAN POLICY OF UNLAWFUL STATE KILLINGS
Today’s verdict from a German
court in the trial of five men for the September 1992 killings of three leaders
of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran and an interpreter in Berlin yet
again indicates a coordinated policy by the Iranian state to kill Iranian
dissidents, Amnesty International said today.
The five men -- four Lebanese and one Iranian -- had been charged with carrying
out the killing in the Mykonos Restaurant, in Berlin. Four were convicted of
the killings, while the fifth -- a Lebanese -- was acquitted. Kazem Darabi, an
Iranian said to have organized the killings for the Iranian secret service, and
Abbas Rhayel, accused of firing the fatal shots, were given life sentences. The
two other Lebanese were given prison sentences of 11 years and five years,
“We welcome the fact that four people have been brought to justice for these
killings. However, for years, Iranian dissidents have been dying in
circumstances suggesting that they were killed by Iranian Government agents.
This trial has shed some further light on the mechanisms by which such killings
occur,” Amnesty International said.
“It is time for the Iranian authorities to live up to their international
obligations to protect the right to life, and to end any such policy of
Amnesty International noted, however, that the case could not yet be considered
closed since a German arrest warrant issued in March 1996 for the Iranian
Minister of Information and Security (in charge of Iran’s secret service),
Hojjatoleslam Ali Fallahian -- also allegedly implicated in the killing --
The court found that the killings had been ordered by Iran’s political
leadership through a “Committee for Special Operations”, whose members it
reportedly said include the Leader of the Islamic Republic, the President, the
Minister of Information and Security and other security officials.
The Iranian authorities have consistently denied involvement, and have stated
that the trial has been “turned into a political case”. The Foreign
Minister has also reportedly been quoted as saying that the “Islamic
Republic of Iran under no circumstances permits others to dictate to it or
damage its reputation or interests”.
The existence of such a policy of extrajudicial executions is given further
weight by the numerous cases of possible extrajudicial executions of Iranians,
both inside and outside the Iran, which have continued to occur in recent
years. Of those inside the country, most
were either writers or members of religious minorities. For example, Molavi
Ahmad Sayyad, a Sunni leader of Baluchi origin, died in unclear circumstances
after being arrested at Bandar Abbas airport in January 1997 on his return from
the United Arab Emirates. His body was found outside the city five days later.
He had previously been arrested in 1990 and apparently detained without trial
for five years on account of his religious beliefs and perceived close
relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Mohammad Bagher Yusefi (also
known as Mohammad Ravanbakhsh), a Protestant Christian pastor, was found dead
in September 1996. The Iranian authorities said he had committed suicide, but
gave no indication that an independent and impartial investigation had been
carried out into his death. Ebrahim Zalzadeh, an editor, “disappeared” in
February 1997. His body was found later with stab wounds.
Those killed outside the country
included Zahra Rajabi and Abdolali Moradi -- both connected to the National
Council of Resistance of Iran -- killed in Turkey in February 1996. In January
1997 an Iranian, Reza Massoumi, was sentenced to 33 years and four months’
imprisonment for the killings. He was reported as saying, “I did not take
part in this action of my own will. This is an Iranian secret service plot”.
Other victims included Reza Mazlouman, a former Deputy Minister of Education
under the Shah, who was killed at his home in France in May 1996 and two
Baluchis, Abdolmalek Mollazadeh and Abdolnasser Jamshid Zahi, who were killed
in Pakistan in March 1996.
The threat of extrajudicial
execution continues to extend to many Iranian nationals abroad, as well as to
non-Iranians such as the British writer Salman Rushdie, whose killing had been
called for in a fatwa (religious edict) in 1989. The Iranian Government
has never issued written confirmation that it would not send anyone to kill
him. In February 1997, an Iranian foundation raised the bounty payable for the
killing of Salman Rushdie; senior members of the clergy made provocative
statements; and the Revolutionary Guards published a statement saying that
Muslims would not rest until he had been killed. The government failed to
condemn or put an end to such threats, indicating official acquiescence in a
threat of extrajudicial execution.
Other evidence of state involvement in such killings has been given by
statements by Iranian officials. For example, the Minister of Information and
Security, Hojjatolelsam Ali Fallahian, was reported as saying in a television
interview on 30 August 1992: “We have been able to deal blows to many of the
mini-groups outside the country and on the borders... one of the active
mini-groups is the Kurdistan Democratic Party... We were able to deal vital
blows to their cadres last year... and their activities were reduced.”
Amnesty International opposes
extrajudicial executions as a violation of the right to life, guaranteed by
Article 6 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, to which
Iran is a state party.