Lawyers George Henri Beauthier, left, and William Bourdon, right, representing the National Council of Resistance of Iran, speak with the media as they arrive at the courthouse in Antwerp, Belgium, Nov. 27, 2020.
Lawyers George Henri Beauthier, left, and William Bourdon, right, representing the National Council of Resistance of Iran, speak with the media as they arrive at the courthouse in Antwerp, Belgium, Nov. 27, 2020.

An Iranian diplomat and three other Iranian citizens went on trial in Belgium Friday for allegedly plotting to bomb a 2018 rally of the Paris-based National Council Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an opposition group in exile.

Belgian prosecutors charged Vienna-based diplomat Assadolah Assadi and the other Iranians for the alleged plot against the gathering, where the keynote speaker was U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Assadi was arrested in Germany while on holiday and handed over to Belgium.

He refused to appear in court the first day of the trial in Antwerp, claiming diplomatic immunity through his lawyer.

"My client asked me to represent him today, he let me know he has the fullest respect for these judges but as he considers that he should benefit from immunity, they are not allowed to judge him," his lawyer, Dimitri de Beco, told reporters outside the court.

Assadi was the third-highest ranking official at Iran’s embassy in Vienna and, according to French officials, he was in charge of intelligence in southern Europe.

Tehran has repeatedly denied the charges, saying the allegations are a “false flag” stunt by the NCRI, which Iran considers a terrorist group.

This is the first time a European Union country is adjudicating a case on terrorism charges involving an Iranian government official.

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