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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 October, 2003, 22:38 GMT 23:38 UK
UK considers Iran ex-diplomat's case
By Elliott Gotkine
BBC South America correspondent

Mr Soleimanpour (right) arrives at Bow Street Magistrates Court
Hade Soleimanpour (right) denies involvement in the 1994 bombing

A court in London has granted the Home Office a three-week extension to decide on whether a request to extradite Iran's former ambassador to Argentina should go ahead.

It had been due to make a decision on the Thursday.

Hade Soleimanpour is accused by the Argentine Government of being involved in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural centre which left more than 80 dead and over 200 injured.

He was arrested in Durham on 22 August but later freed on 730,000 bail.

His detention has caused a diplomatic crisis between Argentina and Iran and strained relations between London and Tehran.

Two months after Hade Soleimanpour was arrested the British Government has yet to decide on whether Argentina's request to have him extradited should proceed.

A spokesman for the Home Office confirmed that it had asked for the delay because it needed more time to consider the 2,500 or so pages of evidence submitted to the court by Argentina.

London's Bow Street Magistrates' Court agreed to the request and the British Government has until 13 November to reach a decision.

Iran opposed

In the meantime, Iran is likely to press its demands to have the case against Mr Soleimanpour dropped.

It says the accusations are politically motivated and has dismissed Argentina's evidence as background reading.

But Argentina will not back down.

President Nestor Kirchner has described the bombing of the Jewish cultural centre as the country's 9/11 and he has made bringing the perpetrators to justice an essential part of his government's administration.

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