22 de agosto 2003 - 00:00

Ex Iran envoy may face extradition for AMIA blast

Ex Iran envoy may face extradition for AMIA blast
Iran's former Ambassador to Argentina appeared in a British court on Friday facing possible extradition for the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center that killed 85 people.

Iran said Thursday's arrest of former ambassador Hadi Soleimanpour was politically motivated and had no legal grounds.

Soleimanpour, 47, was arrested by British police on an international warrant issued by Argentina for conspiracy to murder in connection with a car-bomb attack on the AMIA Jewish community center that killed 85 people.

Soleimanpour was one of eight Iranians ordered arrested by an Argentinean judge last week in connection with the attack.
He has been living in the northern English city of Durham since February last year, when he entered the country on a student visa to study at Durham University.

Soleimanpour, wearing a blue windbreaker and white polo shirt, appeared at London's Bow Street Magistrates Court to hear charges against him in the first phase of a complicated British extradition process that would normally take months to conclude.

The hearing was suspended for an hour at the request of Soleimanpour's lawyer.

"The rulings lack judicial and legal basis and are merely politically motivated," Iran's state television quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi as saying.

"A new plot is being hatched against Iran by the triangle of America, Britain and Israel with the cooperation of Argentina," the hardline Iranian state radio said in a commentary.

Asefi said Argentina would have to "assume responsibility for the judicial and political consequences of such a measure which runs counter to...international regulations," the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

Asefi said Iran would take all necessary steps to secure Soleimanpour's release, including talks with British officials.

Tehran withdrew its Ambassador from Argentina to protest about its implication in the bombing but retains a mission in Buenos Aires.

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