Iran General NewsCourt order over EU terror list

Court order over EU terror list

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ImagePress Association: Europe's governments were ordered by a court to follow the UK's lead and take Iran's main opposition group off a blacklist of suspected terror organisations.

The Press Association

ImageEurope's governments were ordered by a court to follow the UK's lead and take Iran's main opposition group off a blacklist of suspected terror organisations.

The European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg upheld a legal claim by the exiled People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) that there is no justification for including the group and freezing its funds.

The ruling is the latest in a series of verdicts supporting the PMOI's demands to be removed from the list – but the battle is not over.

The case was an appeal against a decision by the EU's Council of Ministers last December to keep the PMOI on its terror list.

That decision came just weeks after the UK's own independent judicial authority, the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission (POAC) ordered the PMOI's removal from the UK list. But the PMOI stayed on the UK list until June this year – and still remains on the EU list after a review in July.

The European judges said last December's EU decision should be annulled because there was no justification for including the PMOI.

There was no evidence, added the judges, that the EU ministers had fulfilled their requirement to take account of the POAC ruling on the PMOI case, which had been the first by a "competent judicial authority" in the UK.

The PMOI was originally included on the EU list at UK insistence in 2002, after then Home Secretary Jack Straw put the PMOI on the Government's own list.

Years of PMOI objections resulted in a European Court ruling in December 2006 that PMOI inclusion was "unlawful". The Court said the group was seeking regime change in Teheran by political, non-violent means. But EU governments – including the UK – took no action, claiming the ruling was based on a technicality.

Then last November came the POAC's damning verdict. POAC chairman Sir Harry Ognall, a former judge, said the Government's decision to blacklist the PMOI was "perverse" and "unreasonable", because it had not been involved in any military activity since August 2001, and had disarmed in 2003.

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