- Title: IRAN: Freed assassin Vakili Rad arrives back in Iran
- Date: 19th May 2010
- Summary: TEHRAN, IRAN (MAY 18, 2010) (REUTERS) ( ** BEWARE FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY **) ALI VALIKI RAD AND HIS MOTHER AT TOP OF STAIRS IN IMAM KHOMEINI AIRPORT TERMINAL RAD WALKING DOWN STEPS RAD AND MOTHER WALKING THOUGH AIRPORT CORRIDORS PHOTOGRAPHERS RAD SEATED WITH WREATH ROUND HIS NECK, MAKING 'V' SIGN RAD SITTING DOWN FOR NEWS CONFERENCE PHOTOGRAPHER RAD AT NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (Farsi) ALI VALIKI RAD, CONVICTED ASSASSIN, SAYING: "I am very happy to have returned to my country, I am so very excited and happy that I can not say more, I just tell you I passed through hell and now I am in paradise." NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (French) ALI VALIKI RAD, CONVICTED ASSASSIN, SAYING: "I send a message to all political detainees from Corsica, Basque, that I met while in detention. To all those who have lost hope; I salute you." RAD GETTING UP FROM NEWS CONFERENCE RAD EMBRACING AND KISSING HIS MOTHER, WALKING
- Reuters ID: LVA6HMNQUTLY18CBQ5EOG4ZJPIOK
- Duration: 00:02:42
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,International Relations
- Story Text: An Iranian man serving a life sentence in France for the 1991 murder of Shahpour Bakhtiar, Iran's last prime minister under the shah, arrived in Tehran on Tuesday (May 18) night, to be greeted by his mother.
A French court ordered the release of Ali Vakili Rad earlier in the day, just two days after Iran freed French teaching assistant Clotilde Reiss, who was held on charges of spying during anti-government protests in Tehran last year.
Both countries have denied the two moves were connected, but France's opposition Socialists are unconvinced and have urged Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to answer questions from parliamentarians about the teacher's release.
He was convicted in 1994 of killing Bakhtiar, a Sorbonne graduate and veteran of the French resistance who had fled to France after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and led an exiled opposition group from Paris.
Less than three hours after the court order was issued, Vakili Rad, 51, left a prison near Paris under heavy police escort.
"I am very happy to have returned to my country, I am so very excited and happy that I can not say more, I just tell you I passed through hell and now I am in paradise," Vakili Rad said at a news conference at Tehran airport.
His lawyer, Sorin Margulis, called his release "a godsend" and added "But this cannot be interpreted as an exchange."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggested a prisoner swap last year if France wanted Reiss to be freed.
France has released prisoners in Iran-related cases in the past, including a Lebanese man convicted of trying to assassinate Bakhtiar in Paris in 1980.
Two weeks ago, France freed an Iranian engineer who Washington wanted to extradite on charges of illegally buying electronic equipment from U.S. firms for military use.
Vakili Rad was one of three people who assassinated Bakhtiar, whose secretary also died in the knife attack at the exiled leader's heavily guarded home in a western Paris suburb.
The other two assailants escaped but Vakili Rad was arrested in neighbouring Switzerland and extradited.
It was widely suspected the killers were supporters of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Bakhtiar, a scion of Iran's old tribal nobility, was educated in Lebanon and France and fought in the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. Repeatedly imprisoned in Iran for opposing the shah, he was persuaded in late 1978 to head a civilian government to oppose the growing Islamic opposition under Khomeini. Bakhtiar served just over a month as prime minister before Khomeini came to power and replaced him with Mehdi Bazargan.
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