Tehran, Berlin spar over new Iran President’s terror links    Wed. 20 Jul 2005


Iran Focus

Berlin, Jul. 20 – A diplomatic spat between Tehran and Berlin over the new ultra-conservative President-elect’s alleged involvement in terrorism became more acrimonious on Wednesday, as Berlin responded to the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s charges that it was playing a role “in a Zionist conspiracy against the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

“Such a statement comes from a country where human rights are constantly violated, where women are publicly flogged after dubious sentences, and where dissidents are held in solitary confinement for months without the possibility of legal assistance. They hardly have a right to complain", German Interior Ministry Spokesman Rainer Lingenthal said on Wednesday.

Lingenthal said the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s reaction to remarks by German Interior Minister Otto Schily amounted to "unbelievable insolence".

Schily, who as Interior Minister is the German government’s top cabinet member in the fight against terrorism, oversees the country’s security and intelligence services. He told Spiegel magazine in an interview published on Monday that while
Iran and Iraq “are saying that they want to be closer, the coming to power in Iran of an Islamic fundamentalist who does not have an absolute distance with terrorism gives cause for grave concern”.

The German Interior Minister’s remarks infuriated the clerical government in
Iran. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said, “Such unfounded accusations against the President-elect are an affront to the Iranian people’s vote”.

“I advise this German official to remove himself from being under the influence of Zionists”, he added.

Prior to becoming Interior Minister, Otto Schily was one of the main lawyers representing the victims’ families in the high-profile trial of four men in
Berlin accused of assassinating Iranian dissidents in September 1992. The three-and-a-half year trial ended in April 1997 with a ruling that found Iran’s senior leaders, including the Supreme Leader and the President, responsible for ordering the assassination of Iranian dissidents abroad.

As the mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad showed his enmity towards Germany by ordering two memorial plaques in April 2004 to be installed in Tehran to blame Germany for supplying Iraq with chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

Ahmadinejad’s decision was in retaliation for the
Berlin city council’s decision to place a commemorative plaque in the neighbourhood where the Iranian dissidents were gunned down.

On Sunday, Ahmadinejad replied to the message of congratulation by German President Horst Koehler with an unusual reference to the allegation that
Germany provided Saddam Hussein’s government with chemical weapons.

Iran in the past three decades has borne many victims incurred by the chemical weapons gifted to Saddam Hossein by some industrial nations”, Ahmadinejad wrote.

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