Minister admits making mistakes in Bahrami case

4th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has admitted he made mistakes in the case of Dutch-Iranian woman Zahra Bahrami during an emergency debate on Thursday. Ms Bahrami was unexpectedly executed a week ago after being sentenced to death for possession of drugs on 5 January.

He promised he would learn the lessons from "this terrible and sad incident", after receiving severe criticism in parliament.

Democrats D66, the Labour Party and Socialist Party reproached him for not personally intervening. They disagreed that "everything had been done at all levels" as the minister had told media earlier in the week.

In his defence, the minister said he had been misled by the authorities. He had been told a day before the unexpected execution that there was still time. The case for a second trial had not been completed and she could still ask for clemency, which the Dutch government would have backed.

The Socialist Party accused the minister of letting himself be taken for a ride and said it was an error of judgement. The Christian Democrats pointed out that executions increased to three per day in Iran in January.

Minister Rosenthal says the ambassador will be called back at "an appropriate time" to give a signal to Iran. The ambassador will for the time being remain in Iran to help the family claim her body. The body will be released on Saturday at the earliest according to the minister.

On rumours that Ms Bahrami may not have been executed but tortured to death, Mr Rosenthal said he had no hard evidence.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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