AP: A Swiss investigator has issued an international arrest warrant for a former Iranian minister for his alleged involvement in the slaying of an exiled Iranian opposition leader, according to a copy of the request obtained Sunday by The Associated Press. Associated Press
GENEVA (AP) – A Swiss investigator has issued an international arrest warrant for a former Iranian minister for his alleged involvement in the slaying of an exiled Iranian opposition leader, according to a copy of the request obtained Sunday by The Associated Press.
The six-page document, partly reproduced earlier by the Lausanne-based weekly Le Matin Dimanche, requests Swiss federal authorities to demand the arrest of Ali Fallahian, Tehran’s hard-line former intelligence minister.
The warrant is dated March 20 and carries the signature of Jacques Antenen, an investigative magistrate in the Swiss canton of Vaud. It is addressed to the Swiss Federal Justice Ministry – which is responsible for transmitting the document internationally – and requests Fallahian’s arrest on grounds that he “decided and ordered the execution of Kazem Rajavi,” who was shot to death near his suburban Geneva home in 1990.
“We order all bailiffs and police forces to arrest and transfer the following person to the canton of Vaud prison,” the warrant said. It then named Fallahian and recounted the details of Rajavi’s killing.
The ministry declined to say whether it received the warrant or had acted on it. “We never confirm whether there is an international arrest warrant or not, because searches under such a warrant are confidential,” ministry spokesman Folco Galli said.
Antenen, who has been in charge of the investigation since 1997, could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Rajavi, a member of the Mujahedeen Khalq armed resistance movement obtained political asylum in Switzerland in 1973 and publicized human rights violations in Iran.
He was killed in the Lake Geneva town of Coppet, 11 kilometers (seven miles) east of Geneva, when his car was sprayed by machine gun fire.
“Justice has been served,” Stephane Rajavi, Kazem’s son, told the AP in a telephone interview.
“After 16 years of deadlock because of the refusal of the (Iranian) state, we are at last here,” he said, blaming Tehran for previously having thwarted the Swiss investigation.
Dozens of dissidents and other Iranians, considered to be enemies of Iran’s fundamentalist government, have been assassinated since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Iranian Intelligence Ministry agents are believed to have been behind the slayings of a number of dissidents abroad during Fallahian’s tenure, from 1989 to 1997. By the ministry’s own account, “rogue” secret agents were behind the murders of five Iranian dissidents in 1998.
German authorities issued a warrant for Fallahian in March 1996 for allegedly ordering the killing of four Iranian dissidents in Berlin, but there has never been a report of his being arrested.
The following year a Berlin court convicted an Iranian secret agent and three Lebanese men in the assassination of the four Iranian opposition figures in Berlin’s Mykonos restaurant on Sept. 17, 1992.
In a finding that led to a crisis in relations between Iran and the European Union, the court said the assassins were acting on the orders of Iran’s top leaders.
Le Matin Dimanche said Antenen’s predecessor on the case until 1997, magistrate Roland Chatelain, had investigated 13 individuals suspected in the Rajavi slaying, but had decided against pursuing Fallahian for fear of reprisals against “little Switzerland.”
Iranian officials had no immediate comment on the warrant Sunday.
Rajavi originally fled Iran in 1957 to join the resistance against Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlevi. After the overthrow of the shah in 1979, he served for one year as head of the Iranian Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, but broke with the new leadership.
Associated Press correspondent Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.