Berlin, 12 Oct. (IPS) To the dismay and anger of the families of the victims, a German court has decided to free an Iranian charged 11 years ago for the assassination of four Iranians in a Berlin restaurant, including the then General Secretary of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (DPIK), two other members of the same Organisation and an opponent to the Islamic Republic.
The Federal German Prosecutor announced on Wednesday that Mr. Kazem Darabi, the coordinator of the Iranian-Lebanese terror squad that assassinated Mr. Sadeq Sharafkandi, the General Secretary of the DPIK and three others on 17 September 1999 in an Iranian-owned restaurant named Mykonos could be free in December, after having passed 11 years behind the bars.
The decision surprised families of the victims and their lawyers, as Mr. Darabi had been sentenced to life imprisonment. However, according to German laws, a detainee condemned to life imprisonment can be free after serving 15 years in prison.
On that night on 17 September, Mr. Sharfkandi, in Berlin to attend an international conference of socialist parties, had invited several Iranian activists to Mykonos. Seated in a private salon behind the restaurant’s main dining room, he was accompanied by Mr. Fattah Abdoli, the representative of the Party for Europe, Homayoun Ardalan, the representative of DPIK for Germany as well as some guests, including Mr. Nourollah Mohammadpour Dehkordi and Parviz Dastmalchi, both known political activists.
“We were just starting eating and talking. From one corner of my eyes looking at Mr. Sharafkandi, I saw the door open and a man entering, brandishing a machine gun and firing. I just plunged under the table, the sound of the machinegund continuing, corpses were falling, blood covering everywhere”, Mr. Dastmalchi, the only one who survived the massacre and played a key role in the condemnation of the terrorists told Iran Press Service in an interview after the killing.
“The first terrorist was replaced by another one who, to make sure that all of us are dead, shot all the group one by one in the head, except me, because I was under the table and looking as I was dead already”, Mr. Dastmalchi added.
I saw the door open and a man entering, brandishing a machine gun and firing on us, randomly
All the members of the killing squad except a few who had escaped Germany had been arrested shortly afterward by the German Police and brought to trial, which lasted five years. They were identified as: Mr. Kazem Darabi, an Iranian, one of the masterminds and coordinator of the assassination team, Abdelrahman Bani Hashemi, alias Sharif, the commander of the team and the one who fired with the machinegun; Abbas Ra’el, alias Ammash a Lebanese member of the Hezbollah, the one who gave the victims the last shot in their head; Mohammad Yusuf Amin, alias Abou Mohammad, Lebanese, also member of Hezbollah; Beheshti, in charge of mounting guard at the door of the restaurant; Fazlollah Heydar, alias Abou Ja’far, the driver, also Lebanese and the liaison officer with the Darabi, sentenced to life imprisonment alongside with Ra’el. The others got lighter sentences and were freed.
The German Justice also delivered international arrest warrants against several high-ranking Iranian officials, including Hojjatoleslam Ali Fallahian, the then Minister of Intelligence, the president and the Foreign Affairs Minister, respectively Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ali Akbar Velayati, for having ordered the killigs. However, charges against Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mr. Velayati were dropped.
“We were hearing some news about Darabi going to be freed and I talked to our lawyer. We are going to lodge a formal protest, but we are told that everything is legal, and apologized to me and my daughter”, Mrs. Shohreh Badi’i, the widow of Mr. Dehkordi, -- who, contrary to his name, was not a Kurd --, told IPS in Berlin.
Some Jewish organizations and the family of Ron Arad, an Israeli co-pilot who’s plane was shot over Lebanon years ago and captured by the Hezbollah also protested, for, according to Israeli newspapers, some German intermediaries had passed a deal with the Lebanese Hezbollah for an exchange of hundreds of Lebanese prisoners, many of the members of the pro-Iranian Lebanese Shi’a Organisation against the body of Arad, whom, Israel and his family insists, had been transferred to Tehran. Allegation that Iran has always denied.
“We are going to make our voice heard on the internet. We are calling for signatories to a petition protesting this injustice, for, we have no doubt, Darabi had been changed in a political deal between the Islamic Republic and Germany”, Mrs. Dehkordi stressed. ENDS MYKONOS 121007