Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Mohammad Hossein Naqdi

About

Age: 42
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: March 16, 1993
Location of Killing: Rome, Italy
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial Shooting
Charges: Unknown charge

About this Case

Mr. Naqdi was Iran's former charge d'affaire in Italy and the representative of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (People's Mojahedin of Iran)

Information regarding Mr. Mohammad Hossein Naqdi’s life and extrajudicial execution was obtained from Jomhuri Eslami newspaper (March 17, and 18, and 27, 1993); IranPedia website; a telegram by the person in charge of the National Council of Resistance to the President and Prime Minister of Italy (March 16, 1993); Deutsche Welle website (April 12, 2014); Bahaye Azadi website (March 20, 2013); Hambastegi Meli website (March 19, 2013); Mojahed Publication (May 17, 2005); Radio Farda (November 29, 2005, April 10, 2014); Radio Radicale interview with Mr. Naqdi’s wife, Ferminia Moroni (March 16, 1993); Fars News Agency (November 25, 2005); IranPedia website (March 16, 1993); Court Decision (November 24, 2005); Deutsche Welle (April 12, 2014); Asoo website (February 1, 2019); Italian publications La Repubblica (March 17, and 18, 1993), Formiche (August 5, 2020), Opinione (February 6, 2016); adnkronos (September 27, 1996), and Radio Radicale (January 9, 1997).

Mr. Naqdi was 41 years old and was born in the city of Yazd. He had an Italian wife. His wife, Ferminia Moroni, was also an active member of the National Council of Resistance. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in geology from Shiraz University and worked at the National Iranian Oil Company for a few years, and in 1971-72, worked for the Atomic Energy Organization. In 1980, Mr. Naqdi went to Italy on an [Iranian] government scholarship and continued his education at the Milan School of Management. He was hired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs upon his return to Iran. Mr. Naqdi’s family was among the officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran after the Revolution. In 1981, he was sent to Rome as the chargé d'affaires of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Eight months later, however, in February-March 1982, he left the Embassy in protest of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s oppressive practices, turned his diplomatic passport over to Italian authorities, and joined the National Council of Resistance, the Mojahedeen Khalq Organization’s (MKO) political wing.

According to available information, Mr. Naqdi remained in Italy as the Council’s representative, and starting in 1984-85, he became the person in charge of the National Council of Resistance in Italy. He was known among the Italian politicians and members of the Italian Parliament, and gained the support of many among them for the National Council of Resistance. Among his last acts in the realm of diplomacy, was gaining the support of more than 300 Italian Members of the Parliament for the National Council of Resistance and the publication of their joint statement.

Threats against Mr. Mohammad Hossein Naqdi and his death

According to available information, on March 16, 1993, as Mr. Naqdi was in his car going to his place of work located in in Rome’s Montesacro Quarter, two unidentified gunmen on a Vespa scooter, opened fire on him with automatic weapons in Elba Square, two bullets hitting and injuring him. He died before getting to the hospital.

The gunmen disappeared in the crowded city after shooting Mr. Naqdi. That same afternoon, a weapon was found in a trash can on Monte Rocheta Street (La Repubblica).

The weapon that was found was the same weapon that was used in Mr. Naqdi’s assassination. It was a Skorpion 7.65 caliber submachine gun equipped with a silencer, the serial number of which had been erased. According to Italian police officials, the victim had been shot in the face and the back of his neck.

Mr. Naqdi’s wife, Ms. Ferminia Moroni, stated in an interview on the day of her husband’s murder: “A year and a half ago, I received a suspicious phone call where an unidentified person was asking me about my husband and the change in his location. We discussed this with the police and it was decided that the police would provide him with protection for specific purposes, that is, when Mr. Naqdi left his home and entered his office.” (La Repubblica).

Ms. Ferminia Moroni continued: “I knew there was no way out for my husband and that the Iranian regime would kill him. He became a serious and important opponent of Khomeini’s fundamentalism after he joined the Mojahedeen Khalq Organization. Once my husband made that decision, the Tehran government issued his death sentence.” She further stated that she had asked her husband to stop fighting the Iranian regime, knowing that that was an impossible request [that he would not heed]. That was why she knew that his execution would happen sooner or later. (La Repubblica).

Mr. Naqdi had been the object of another attack by a person in the street in 1982. That individual had fled upon a quick reaction by Mr. Naqdi and his wife. (Bahaye Azadi website).

According to Mr. Naqdi’s fellow fighters, he had been threatened on one other occasion by an unidentified person: “One year prior to this event, on May 25, 1990, an unidentified person called Mr. Naqdi’s home, speaking Italian with a foreign accent, and told him that he wanted to speak to his wife. Mr. Naqdi answered the phone himself. The caller, realizing that it was Mr. Naqdi, started speaking Persian and told him ‘I wanted to tell your wife that the sentence issued by Ayatollah Khomeini in June of 1982, has been activated and will soon be implemented’.” (Bahaye Azadi website).

In a telegram sent to the Italian Prime minister and to the Italian President, Masud Rajavi, the person in charge of the National Council of Resistance, noted the concerns of the Italian Police: “In his last contact with me, Mr. Naqdi informed me that the Italian Police, who was officially in charge of safeguarding his life at the request of the Resistance, had expressed concerns regarding the terrorist conspiracies of the Khomeini regime against his life, based on specific information.” He continued that the Italian Ministry of the Interior was seeking to reinforce and strengthen Mr. Naqdi’s protection: “Last Tuesday, March 9, Mr. Naqdi also told me that police officers had informed him that same day that, based on specific information and reports, the Italian Ministry of the Interior had asked the Police to look into the protection of Mr. Naqdi and to reinforce it if necessary.” (IranPedia website, March 16, 1993).

Officials’ Reaction

A report in Jomhuri Eslami newspaper stated that on March 16, 1993, the Press Wing of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Rome had issued a communique regarding the Mojahedeen Khalq Organization’s accusations that the Islamic regime was involved in Mr. Naqdi’s assassination, and had refuted those accusations. The communique stated: “The Islamic Republic is the biggest victim of terrorism and opposes acts [of terror] in any shape or form and for whatever reason.” In this communique, the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran considered Mr. Naqdi’s assassination a result of MKO infighting: “The assassination of a member of the Hypocrites (derogatory term used by the Islamic Republic of Iran to refer to the MKO) in Rome was a result of infighting and settling scores that goes on in these types of terrorist organizations, that is ascribed to Iran in order to divert public attention on the eve of the annual World Quds Day.” The report also quoted a terrorism expert as saying: “Hossein Naqdi, a high-ranking member of the Hypocrites, assassinated early yesterday in Italy, was a victim of the Rajavi wing of the Hypocrites Organization’s hatred and grudges.” (Jomuri Eslami newspaper, March 17, 1993).

Italian Officials’ Reaction

The Italian Police was not able to identify and apprehend Mr. Naqdi’s assassins.

In order to arrest the people involved in Mr. Naqdi’s assassination, the Italian Police proceeded to question Iranian students residing in Italy. (Jomuri Eslami newspaper, March 27, 1993).

The Italian Police had gone to Mr. Naqdi’s home after his murder and had taken certain documents in the absence of his wife. “They confiscated some important documents related to the Iranian resistance.” (La Repubblica).

The first suspect in the case was a person named Hamid Parandeh, an Islamic Republic diplomat in Italy. After her husband’s assassination, Ms. Moroni stated in a report that “on March 13, 1993, as she was with Mr.Naqdi in the alley where their home was located, she noticed two individuals who looked very much like Iranians, keeping her and her husband under surveillance. One of them had a beard and had a camera around his neck”. (Bahaye Azadi website). When the Police showed her an album containing 140 pictures, she identified the man she had seen in the alley. (Bahaye Azadi website). Mr. Naqdi’s wife’s testimony was refuted at the preliminary hearing, however, and the defendant, Hamid Parandeh was released because of his diplomatic immunity and was not tried. (Radio Radicale).

The Italian Judiciary announced the case of Mr. Naqdi’s murder closed in 2004.

Mr. Naqdi’s case was reopened on May 11, 2005, with new evidence presented by the victim’s family. The Rome Criminal Court, composed of a well-known Italian judge, Francesco Amato and seven other judges, began hearing the indictment presented by the Italian Anti-Terrorist Special Prosecutor regarding Mr. Naqdi’s assassination. (Radio Farda).

The attorneys and the prosecutor tried to prove in absentia, the guilt of an individual with the alias Amir Mansur Bozorgian Asl (Sardar Ghafur Darjazi, and currently using the name Mostafa Modabber, member of the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Special Forces, who was involved in the murder of Messrs. Abdorrahman Qassemlu, Abdollah Qaderi Azar, and Fazel Rassul in Austria; this information was taken from these individuals’ stories available at the Boroumand Center website), and that this individual had been dispatched to Italy by Iranian officials to kill Mr. Naqdi; it was said that he was one of the people who had opened fire on Mr. Naqdi with a machine gun. (Fars News Agency). Amir Mansur Bozorgian Asl carried a diplomatic passport.

At trial, Ayatollah Khomeini’s Fatwa (religious decree) to murder Mr. Naqdi was submitted in court by the family’s attorneys as definitive evidence for the reopening of the case. This Fatwa declared the killing of Mojahedeen Khalq members and supporters as Vajeb (religious imperative). It was decided at this trial that a meeting should be held in Berlin with Abolghassem Mesbahi, one of the witnesses at the Mikonos Trial.

In the course of the investigations by the Italian Police, Mr. Mesbahi claimed that the agents charged with Mr. Naqdi’s murder were dispatched from Tehran to Italy and were under the supervision of Abutalebi, Iran’s former ambassador to Italy. He continued: “Iran’s then-ambassador to Italy knew Mr. Mohammad Hossein Naqdi from before, and he was involved in the assassination mission along with Amir Mansur Bozorgian Asl (Asl Bozorgian), the head of the Embassy’s Intelligence Section.” (Deutsche Welle). However, Mr. Mesbahi’s testimony was not accepted by the court because it contained certain inconsistencies regarding the identification of said individuals.

The court therefore issued an in absentia verdict of not guilty in the criminal case against Bozorgian Asl in the presence of his attorney on November 24, 2006. The two charges brought against him, namely, 1) Conspiring with unidentified persons to cause the death of Mohammad Hossein Naqdi ; and 2) illegal carrying of firearms with other persons in order to commit murder; were not proven in court and [the case against him was dropped]. (Decision of the Italian Court).

The Italian judicial system was not able to put a name or a face on Mr. Naqdi’s murderers after 27 years. However, a chain of command for the [implementation of the] murder was established to a certain extent. The Court Decision showed what individuals had ordered this murder: This killing started with Khomeini’s Fatwa in early 1981, and was approved by Khamenei in early 1991. Those who had organized the murder and those who had carried it out, that is, the unidentified murderers, as well as the diplomats at the Iranian Embassy in Italy, were involved in the planning of the assassination.

The story of Mr. Naqdi’s murder resurfaced in the news when Iran requested a United States visa for Hamid Abutalebi, Iran’s new Ambassador to the United Nations. The Telegraph wrote that Hamid Abutalebi, Iran’s Ambassador, had played a key role in Mr. Naqdi’s assassination, and that court documents, including copies of interviews conducted by the Italian Police in the course of its investigations concerning Mr. Naqdi’s death, proved that claim. Hamid Abutalebi was Iran’s Ambassador in Italy at the time of Mr. Naqdi’s murder. (Deutsche Welle).

At the time, the Italian Police was not able to prove that the suspects had entered Italy for the purpose of killing Mr. Naqdi. The Iranian intelligence apparatus’ footprints can be seen in the case against the defendants in this murder. However, the murderers [were released and] were not put on trial after the preliminary hearing because they had diplomatic immunity. The case remains open.

The Reaction of the Mojahedeen Khalq Organization and the National Council of Resistance

The National Council of Resistance believes that Mr. Naqdi’s assassination was organized by the Iranian government, that the killers had entered Italy with diplomatic passport and under the cover of the Iranian Embassy in Rome, and had planned his assassination. (La Repubblica).

In a telegram sent to the Italian Prime minister and to the President, Masud Rajavi, the person in charge of the National Council of Resistance, stated that “the insufficiency of the security protection” provided by the Italian government to Mr. Naqdi was one of the reasons he was assassinated. He also stated that the Islamic Republic was responsible for the murder: “The diplomat-terrorists dispatched by the Rafsanjani government and the regime of the mullahs, shed Naqdi’s blood on the streets of Rome with unimaginable insolence and viciousness, violating international laws and Italy’s sovereignty, abusing diplomatic immunity and facilities.” (IranPedia website, March 16, 1993).

This telegram also stated the reason for the Islamic Republic’s hatred of Mr. Naqdi: “On November 19 of last year (1991), the Italian government accepted as a recommendation the Members of the Parliament’s planned proposal to recognize the National Council of Resistance, a proposal that had been amended to your country’s budget bill. This proposal ‘obligated the Italian government not take any action that could be considered as an indirect aid to the ruling regime in Iran’ and ‘to directly combat any conduct of the ruling regime in Iran that disturbs the peace in the region in all international organizations, and to take necessary actions in order to guarantee democracy and human rights in Iran’.” He further stated: “Mr. Naqdi was a well-known personality to most of your country’s politicians, Members of Parliament, and political parties. He had been following up on the passage of this very proposal, and prior to that, he had followed up on the Declaration of 377 Members of the Italian Parliament condemning the widespread violations of human rights and of the mullahs’ terrorism in Iran, in support of the Iranian Resistance (July 1992). The mullahs, therefore, hated him.” (IranPedia website, March 16, 1993).

Familys’ Reaction

Ms. Moroni, Mr. Naqdi’s wife, played a very active role in following up on his case. Regarding investigations into her husband’s murder, she stated: “I have to say that I have met some very serious and interested people. Naturally, the officials do not give me too many assurances but there are individuals who are very good people. These individuals must be encouraged and must be assured that the Judiciary is an independent entity.” (Radio Radicale).

Ferminia Moroni continued to pursue the case, and in an interview with Radio Radicale, at a time where Velayati, the then-Iranian Foreign Minister was visiting Italy, stated: “I do not intend to give up and I will never give up. And of course I need everyone’s support.” (Radio Radicale).

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