France releases Iranian killer of ex-PM

18th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

A French court on Tuesday released Iranian agent Ali Vakili Rad, just days after a young French academic accused of spying in Tehran was allowed to return home.

Vakili Rad had completed a life sentence for murdering the shah's last prime minister, Shapour Bakhtiar, at his home outside Paris in August 1991 and became eligible for parole last year.

A Paris sentencing court ruled in favour of granting parole for Vakili Rad, the Paris prosecutor's office said, a day after the interior minister signed a deportation order for the Iranian national.

His lawyer Sorin Margulis insisted the decision was not part of a deal agreed with Tehran to secure the release of 24-year-old Clotilde Reiss, who was tried in Tehran on charges of acting against national security.

"This must not be seen as an exchange," Margulis told reporters.

Vakili Rad was expected to board a plane in Paris for Tehran later in the day, his lawyer said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year had linked Reiss's release to the fate of Iranian nationals held in French jails, but France has firmly denied that a swap had been agreed.

Vakili Rad was convicted in 1994 of stabbing and strangling 76-year-old Bakhtiar at his home on August 6, 1991 and served his jail term in Poissy, west of Paris.

The last prime minister under shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Bakhtiar fled to France in 1980 after the Iranian Revolution and his home in Suresnes, west of Paris, had been under round-the-clock police surveillance.

Vakili Rad and an accomplice were allowed inside the villa by an aide to Bakhtiar, who was murdered along with his secretary Fouroush Katibeh.

Arrested in Switzerland, he was extradited to face trial in France but the other two accomplices managed to escape.

© 2010 AFP

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