Iran sentences Belgian assist employee to jail, lashes


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran has sentenced a Belgian assist employee to a prolonged jail time period and 74 lashes after convicting him of espionage in a closed-door trial, state media reported Tuesday.

The web site of Iran’s judiciary stated a Revolutionary Courtroom sentenced 41-year-old Olivier Vandecasteele to 12.5 years in jail for espionage, 12.5 years for collaboration with hostile governments and 12.5 years for cash laundering. He was additionally fined $1 million and sentenced to 2.5 years for foreign money smuggling.

Beneath Iranian regulation, Vandecasteele can be eligible for launch after 12.5 years. The judiciary web site stated the verdicts might be appealed.

Iran has detained a lot of foreigners and twin nationals over time, accusing them of espionage or different state safety offenses and sentencing them after secretive trials through which rights teams say they’re denied due course of.

Critics accuse Iran of utilizing such prisoners as bargaining chips with the West, one thing Iranian officers deny. Vandecasteele’s conviction comes after an Iranian diplomat in Belgium obtained a 20-year jail sentence in 2021 over masterminding a thwarted bomb assault in opposition to an exiled Iranian opposition group in France.

Iran has not launched any particulars in regards to the fees in opposition to Vandecasteele. It’s unclear if they’re associated to anti-government protests which have convulsed Iran for months or a long-running shadow warfare with Israel and the U.S. marked by covert assaults on Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

The nationwide protests started after the loss of life in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained for allegedly violating Iran’s strict Islamic costume code. Rallying beneath the slogan “Girls, life, freedom,” the protesters say they’re fed up with a long time of social and political repression. Iran has blamed the protests on international powers, with out offering proof.

Vandecasteele’s household stated final month that he has been detained in an Iranian jail for months and has been on a starvation strike. They stated he was disadvantaged of entry to a lawyer of his selection and is affected by severe well being issues.

Belgium has urged its nationals to go away Iran, warning that they face the chance of arbitrary arrest or unfair trial.

“Iran has supplied no official info concerning the fees in opposition to Olivier Vandecasteele or his trial,” Belgium’s International Minister Hadja Lahbib stated in a press release. “We’ll summon the Iranian ambassador immediately, given the data that’s circulating within the press.”

“Belgium continues to sentence this arbitrary detention and is doing all the things attainable to place an finish to it and to enhance the situations of his detention,” she stated.

The anti-government protests, which have continued for practically 4 months endlessly, are one of many largest challenges to the Islamic Republic for the reason that 1979 revolution that introduced it to energy.

No less than 520 protesters have been killed and greater than 19,300 folks have been arrested, in accordance with Human Rights Activists in Iran, a gaggle that has been monitoring the unrest. Iranian authorities haven’t supplied official figures on deaths or arrests.

Iran has executed 4 folks after convicting them of fees linked to the protests, together with assaults on safety forces. They had been convicted in Revolutionary Courts, which don’t permit these on trial to choose their very own attorneys or see the proof in opposition to them.

London-based Amnesty Worldwide has stated such trials bear “no resemblance to a significant judicial continuing.”

Norway and Denmark summoned Iranian ambassadors this week to protest the executions and Iran’s dealing with of the demonstrations.

“What is occurring in Iran is totally unacceptable and should cease,” Norway’s International Minister Anniken Huitfeldt stated. “Now we have strongly condemned the executions. … Now we have known as on Iran to finish the usage of the loss of life penalty and to respect human rights.”

In Denmark, International Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen known as the executions “utterly unacceptable” and stated the European Union ought to impose further sanctions on Iran.

Individually on Tuesday, the state-run IRNA information company stated Iran’s intelligence ministry arrested six groups of operatives linked to Mossad, Israel’s chief intelligence and secret-service company.

With out offering proof, the report stated the spy groups deliberate to assassinate an unnamed high-ranking army official and had carried out a number of sabotage operations within the nation’s huge cities.

The report additionally stated safety forces recognized 23 alleged members of those groups and had arrested 13 of them who had been within the nation.


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