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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Argentina submits extradition evidence
Mark Doyle
By Mark Doyle
BBC World Affairs correspondent

Mr Soleimanpour (right) arrives at Bow Street Magistrates Court
Hade Soleimanpour (right) denies involvement in the 1994 bombing
A court in London has been told that the British Government has received some 2,500 pages of evidence from Argentina to back an extradition request lodged in London against a former Iranian diplomat.

The Iranian former ambassador to Argentina, Hadi Soleimanpour has been accused by a judge in Argentina of being involved in the bombing of a Jewish cultural centre nine years ago when over 80 people were killed.

He denies the charge and is resisting extradition to Argentina. The case has caused a three-way diplomatic rift between Britain, Iran and Argentina.

Mr Soleimanpour is currently resident in Britain and on bail pending the outcome of the case.

The UK Home Office confirmed to Bow Street Magistrates Court in central London that it had now received documents from the Argentine government allegedly showing Mr Soleimanpour's involvement with the bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish centre.

Mr Soleimanpour's defence lawyers dismissed the documents as "background reading" and said they would not prove anything against their client.

Diplomatic spat

The UK Home Secretary, David Blunkett, now has five weeks to study the Argentine papers to decide whether to go ahead with the extradition case, which the defence lawyers say they will fight.

The Iranian Government has vigorously denied the allegations against Mr Soleimanpour and demanded the case be dropped.

The affair has caused a diplomatic crisis between Argentina and Iran and strained relations between London and Tehran.

Protesters outside Bow Street Magistrates Court
Protesters demanded Hade Soleimanpour be extradited
Anti-Iranian Government demonstrators gathered outside the courtroom on Friday shouting "terrorist, terrorist" as Mr Soleimanpour entered.

But the former diplomat looked unflustered. The Court relaxed Mr Soleimanpour's bail conditions, allowing him to spend weekdays in London at a house owned by the Iranian Government so that he can consult more easily with his lawyers.

Until now he had been required to stay at his home in the north of England. Mr Soleimanpour has deposited over $1m in bail, most of it paid by the Iranian Government.




SEE ALSO:
Iran ex-diplomat freed on bail
12 Sep 03  |  Americas
Iranian ambassador returns to UK
07 Sep 03  |  Middle East
Flashback: Argentina bomb
25 Aug 03  |  Americas
Iran cuts ties with Argentina
23 Aug 03  |  Americas
Analysis: Iran's UK dilemma
03 Sep 03  |  Middle East
Timeline: UK-Iran relations
03 Sep 03  |  Middle East


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