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Sarmadi says the arrest of former envoy is technically wrong

London, Aug 25, IRNA -- "The arrest of former Iranian ambassador to Argentina, Hadi Soleimanpour, by British authorities is technically wrong and baseless," says Morteza Sarmadi Iranian Ambassador to the UK.

Sarmadi told IRNA here on Monday that based on international law under the 1961 Vienna Convention ambassadors and embassy staff are immune from prosecution.

"According to paragraph 2 of article 39 of this convention even if they commit a crime while in duty they cannot be prosecuted in the host country", he added.

Sarmadi emphasized that this immunity will last even after the end of assignments for the disputed staff(s) for the acts during their service.

Designed to ensure diplomatic staff can perform duties without harassment, diplomatic immunity means, regardless of laws of the host Soleimanpour, 47, was arrested by British Police on Thursday in Durham, Northeast England, over his alleged role in the bombing of a Jewish Community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994.

He is to be held in custody until Friday 29 August when the Magistrate Court in Bow Street in London will rule on an Argentine Extradition request.

Sarmadi said he met Soleimanpour today at Brixton prison in South London.

"He was complaining for unfair treatment by the British justice system for keeping him unlawfully in custody," Sarmadi added.

He said all the evidences show that Soleimanpour is innocent and the move by Argentinean court is politically motivated following the recent regime change in Argentina and is clearly under the influence of Zionist lobby groups in this country.

"If they had any evidence against Iran and her involvement in this campaign they should have raised them in the last 9 years or so," Sarmadi added.

Iranian Ambassador to London said, "Foreign Offices in Iran and Britain are in close contacts at the moment regarding this issue and we hope that British government do respect international laws and release Soleimanpour quickly."

Regarding the team of lawyers who are defending Soleimanpour Sarmadi added that he was not happy for the way they challenged the issue at the court on Friday and has asked a new team to defend him at the hearing on Friday.

Upon the arrest of Soleimanpour, President Mohammad Khatami escalated the diplomatic row with Argentina and the UK. "I hope that the British Government will swiftly go back on this incorrect action and apologize," he said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry on Saturday summoned Argentine Charge `Affaires Ernesto Alvarez to inform him of Iran`s strong protest against this arrest.

The British Charges d`Affaires, Mathew Gould, was summoned on Sunday for a second time by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

... Payvand News - 8/25/03 ... --

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