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Murder at Mykonos: Anatomy of a Political Assassination

confirmed this information with well-placed sources with direct knowledge of the inner workings of the IRI Ministry of Intelligence.92

Banisadr also described for the court the role played by the IRI’s Special Affairs Committee in commissioning and overseeing political assassinations.93 He asserted that the recommendation to assassinate an opposition figure is usually first made by the Committee and then carried out with the consent of both Khamenei and Rafsanjani. Thus, he concluded,

The person who ordered this attack, under the current Iranian constitution and under Islamic law, can be no other than Khamenei himself.94

5.4. Witness “C”

The key prosecution witness was a former senior Iranian intelligence official known during the trial only as witness “C”95 but who was subsequently identified as Abolghassem (Farhad) Mesbahi.96 Abolghassem Mesbahi was in charge of the intelligence station in the Iranian Embassy in Paris in the early 1980s. His activities were directed primarily against exiled opponents of the Iranian government.97

Mesbahi was declared persona non grata by the French government and expelled in 1983 for intelligence activities incompatible with his diplomatic status. He was transferred to the Iranian Embassy in Bonn where he served as the intelligence coordinator for Western Europe and continued to monitor the Iranian opposition.98 Mesbahi testified that in 1984, he had been involved in an assassination attempt on the exiled Iranian dissident and satirist Hadi Khorsandi in London.99

In 1985, Mesbahi went back to Iran to assist in founding the new Ministry of Intelligence. In 1986, he served as deputy head of the international and political office of the Foreign Ministry for six months and was then put in charge of United Nations affairs.100 In 1987, he went to Switzerland to obtain a PhD. During this period Mesbahi acted as a back-channel for Rafsanjani’s101 contacts with European

[92]Telephone interview with Abolhassan Banisadr, Activist (Jan. 4, 2007).
[93]Iran on Trial, THE WALL ST. J., Nov. 25, 1996 at A18.
[94]Ian Traynor, 'Iran Terrorism' Trial Comes to Climax, THE GUARDIAN, April 10, 1997 at 10.
[95]He was introduced to the court on September 5, 1996, by Banisadr. SYSTEM-I JINAYATKAR:ASNAD-I DADGAH-I MIKUNUS [Criminal System: Documents of the Mykonos Case] 161 (Mihran Payandih et al. trans. 2000).
[96]The government of Iran went to some lengths to discredit Mesbahi and claimed that he had never had any connection to the Ministry of Intelligence. Mykonos Judgment, supra note 27, at 336. The Court was able to find corroboration for Mesbahi’s statements. Mesbahi described the countries he traveled to and the missions he was on, and the court reviewed photocopies of his passports and visas, which supported his account. In addition, concerning the true nature of the UISA and the Islamic centers, Mesbahi gave answers which matched the expert testimonies of Professor Steinbach. Mesbahi’s behavior during the depositions did not provide any reason to question the veracity of his statements, and he made precise distinctions between what he knew from his own experiences and what he had learned from conversations with other people or from hearsay. In order to establish the credibility of the information he received, he quoted the names of his sources and their functions within different state agencies, when it was possible to do so without risk involved. The court was able to check the facts by comparing them with other witness testimony, and could not find any discrepancies with regard to the historical evolution of the PDKI, the policy of Iranian leaders in response to the Kurdish opposition, the attack on Dr. Ghassemlou, the relations between Iran and Hezbollah, and the functions of Iranian institutions in Germany. Mykonos Judgment, supra note 27, at 335-345.
[97]Mykonos Judgment, supra note 27, at 335.
[99]Hadi Khorsandi is a prominent contemporary Persian poet and satirist. Since 1979, he has been the editor and writer of the satirical journal Ashgar Agha In the attempt, Mesbahi was the interpreter. He translated the order from Farsi to French to the hit team. The night before murder implementation, Mesbahi called UK police and revealed the plan. UK police arrested the suspects and find the weapons. Witness statement of Abolghassem Mesbahi (witness C) on Sep. 27, 1996. SYSTEM-I JINAYATKAR:ASNAD-I DADGAH-I MIKUNUS [Criminal System: Documents of the Mykonos Case] 187 (Mihran Payandih et al. trans. 2000).
[100Witness statement of Abolghassem Mesbahi (witness C) on Sep. 25, 1996. SYSTEM-I JINAYATKAR:ASNAD-I DADGAH-I MIKUNUS
[Criminal System: Documents of the Mykonos Case] 165 (Mihran Payandih et al. trans. 2000).

[101]>Rafsanjani was the head of Parliament at this time.

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Political Killings, Assassinations, Political Freedom