Dutch foreign minister delays trip over execution

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Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has delayed a two-day visit to Turkey. He has been summoned by parliament to explain what happened in connection with the sudden execution of Dutch-Iranian woman Zahra Bahrami in Iran at the weekend.

Ms Bahrami was executed after being convicted on drugs charges, but she was arrested in December 2009 after attending an anti-government demonstration. Her execution was carried out unexpectedly before a second trial for subversive activities could begin. Her family and lawyers were not informed.

The Freedom Party PVV wants to ask the minister why he has not expelled the Iranian ambassador in response. PVV leader Geert Wilders does not think freezing relations with the Middle Eastern country is enough.

The Christian Democrats also want to see more severe measures taken, such as the recalling of the Dutch ambassador from Tehran. CDA MP Jan Ormel falls short of calling for the Iranian ambassador to be expelled as there are still other Dutch nationals in Iranian prisons in need of assistance.

The democrats D66 have submitted written questions to Minister Rosenthal requesting a report of the facts in the case. In particular, D66 leader Alexander Pechtold wants to know whether a refusal to allow an Iranian plane to refuel in the Netherlands was connected to the Bahrami case.

He also criticised comments by the minister in the media that people who ask whether the Dutch government had done enough were playing to the tune of Tehran.

Minister Rosenthal says all avenues to save Ms Bahrami were exhausted at all levels. He says the Iranian authorities had trampled on the truth and transgressed civilised norms.

The delay means the minister will miss a dinner with Turkish politicians and a meeting with Dutch entrepreneurs.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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