France releases Iranian national
The French government has released an Iranian national after he served 16 years of a life sentence on the charge of assassinating Shapour Bakhtiar.
Ali Vakili-Rad was arrested in 1994 in Switzerland and subsequently extradited to France where he was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment on the charge of killing Bakhtiar — the last prime minister of the Pahlavi monarchy in Iran.
Bakhtiar, who was residing in France at the time, was assassinated in 1991 at his home in a Paris suburb despite tight security measures provided by the French police.
The French government had increased Bakhtiar’s security detail after he survived an earlier assassination attempt.
Vakili-Rad has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his lawyers maintain that he was not involved in the assassination.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has denied rumors that Vakili-Rad was released in exchange for the release of French national Clotilde Reiss — who was detained in the Iranian city of Isfahan last year during the country’s post-election unrest.