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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Iran diplomat refused bail
Protesters outside Bow Street Magistrates Court
Protesters demanded Hade Soleimanpour be extradited
An Iranian ex-diplomat has again been remanded in custody in London over a terror attack which killed 85 people in Argentina.

Hade Soleimanpour, 47, is wanted by the Argentine government to face charges that he helped plan the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires - the country's worst ever terror attack.

He was refused bail at Bow Street Magistrates court at an extradition hearing and will appear for a further hearing on 19 September.

Bail was turned down despite an offer by his government to put up 500,000 for his surety, and a further 205,000 from family and friends.

His lawyers said the Iranian government was prepared to "stake its own credibility" on the case.

Mr Soleimanpour (right) arrives at Bow Street Magistrates
Mr Soleimanpour (right) denies any involvement in the bombing
The court heard Iran had threatened to withdraw some of its diplomats, but not its ambassador to London, over the arrest.

District judge Christopher Pratt said the serious nature of the charges, and the diplomatic sensitivity of the case, meant bail would be refused.

The extradition attempt has strained relations between the UK and Iran, which claims the arrest is politically motivated.

Noisy protests

About 50 protesters, mainly allied to the National Council of Resistance of Iran - which opposes the current regime - demonstrated outside the court demanding Mr Soleimanpour's extradition.

They shouted "one last terrorist out of the UK" and unfurled a banner reading "It is time to bring Mullah's regime to justice for 450 terrorist attacks", as the ex-envoy entered the court.

The aftermath of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires

When his wife later left the hearing, she was also shouted at - with one protester pursuing her down the road.

Mr Soleimanpour was arrested earlier this month at the University of Durham, where he has been working as a research assistant.

The Argentine authorities believe the 47-year-old - who was Iranian ambassador to Argentina at the time of the attack - was involved in planning and commissioning the bomb.

He has strenuously denied any involvement.

Iranian president Ali Mohammed Khatami has demanded his release and an apology from the UK government.

And last week Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Ahani visited London to discuss the matter with UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

The British government says it cannot intervene in what it calls a purely judicial, and not political, process.

Argentina is seeking the extradition of eight Iranian officials in total over the bombing.




SEE ALSO:
Flashback: Argentina bomb
25 Aug 03  |  Americas
Iran envoy arrest row escalates
24 Aug 03  |  Middle East
Iran cuts ties with Argentina
23 Aug 03  |  Americas
Argentina to open bomb files
06 Jun 03  |  Americas


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