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Murder at Mykonos: Anatomy of a Political Assassination

5. Arrests and Trial

5.1. Police Investigation

The Sportino sports bag abandoned by Farajollah Haidar on the night of the murders, which contained the weapons used in the Mykonos operation, was found by an employee of the Berolina car dealership on September 22, 1992.68 The recovered weapons were formally identified as an Israeli-manufactured Uzi machine gun and a Spanish Llama X-A automatic pistol.69 Also in the bag were two silencers.70 Comparative tests on these silencers and those used in the assassination of Iranian oppositionists Ali Akbar Mohammadi in Hamburg on January 16, 198771 and Bahman Javadi in Cyprus on August 26, 198972 revealed significant similarities in the manufacturing and design characteristics.73 The German police were able to match the serial number of the Llama automatic pistol used by Rhayel to a shipment delivered by the Spanish manufacturer to the Iranian military in 1972.74

The forensic examination of the weapons by the German authorities found Abbas Rhayel’s palm print on one of the pistol magazines recovered from the sports bag and also traces of blood from one of the Mykonos victims, Nouri Dekhordi, on the pistol itself.75 When the abandoned getaway car was finally recovered by police investigators in October 1992, a spent Uzi cartridge was found inside, as was a plastic shopping bag with Amin’s fingerprint on it.76

Within a few weeks of the shooting, the German authorities had rounded up five of the suspected perpetrators. Pursuing leads generated by the German foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German police were able to locate both Amin and Rhayel at Amin’s brother’s house in Rheine. Amin and Rhayel were arrested on October 4, 1992.77 Atris was arrested three days later, and Darabi on October 8, 1992.78

After hearing of the arrests of his associates, Ataollah Ayad sought to leave Germany. He did not have enough money to buy a ticket, so he began calling different contacts seeking their assistance.79 In November 1992 he met with Mohammad Chehade, the Amal Militia’s representative in Germany and the chairman of the Lebanon Solidarity Society. Ayad described his role in the preliminary planning of the Mykonos assassinations, named the participants involved, and requested money. Chehade declined to assist him. Ayad was arrested on December 9, 1992 in Berlin.80

The remaining suspects - Banihashemi, Haidar, Sabra, and Mohammad - escaped arrest. Banihashemi reportedly left Berlin immediately after the assassination and traveled through Turkey back to Iran. Mohammad likewise left by the same route.81 Haidar escaped to Lebanon where he lived for some time before moving to Iran. He has since been reported to be working for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards

[68] Indictment, supra note 34, at 34; Mykonos Judgment, supra note 27, at 48.
[69] The Uzi is a 9mm caliber weapon which typically utilizes a magazine containing 32 rounds. The Llama X-A is a 7.65 mm automatic pistol with an 8 round magazine.
[70] Indictment, supra note 34, at 34.
[71] James. M Markham, Bonn May Balk at Extraditing Terror Suspect, N.Y. TIMES, Jan. 17, 1987 at A6.
[72] Patrick E. Tyler, Iranian Seen as Victim Of Assassination Plan, WASH. POST, Sep. 9, 1989 at A9.
[73] Memorandum from Bruno Jost, Senior Public Prosecutor, to K.R. Braun, Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany, Ermittlungsverfahren Ali Fallahijan wegen Mordes u.a. [Preliminary Investigation of Ali Fallahian for Murder Among Other Things] (Dec. 4, 1995) at 4 [hereinafter Jost Memo].
[74] Final Report, supra note 37, at 21.
[75] Indictment, supra note 34, at 34.
[76] Mykonos Judgment, supra note 27, at 48.
[77] Summary of Facts, supra note 42, at 17-18.
[78] Final Report, supra note 37, at 15 and 17.
[79] Mykonos Judgment, supra note 27, at 104.
[80] Final Report, supra note 37, at 15.
[81] Mykonos Judgment, supra note 27, at 48.

 

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Political Killings, Assassinations, Political Freedom