TEHRAN – A court that ruled that the anti-Iran terrorist group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), was wrongly included on list of terrorist organizations refuses to say when it should be taken off it.
The European Court of First Instance has refused to clarify whether member states must immediately apply a judgment requiring an Iranian opposition group to be removed from the EU’s terrorist blacklist.
In a written statement, issued on 17 December, the court rejected a request for clarification by EU member states, represented by the Council of Ministers, saying the request is “manifestly inadmissible” because it “relates to a matter not decided by the main judgment”.
In its judgment, made on 4 December, the court ruled that the Council of Ministers had infringed the legal rights of the MKO when it updated the blacklist in July without explaining its inclusion. It also said the Council failed to provide sufficient evidence to the court that the MKO’s status as a terrorist organization was justified.
The judgment legally annulled the MKO’s inclusion on the list. Member states have until 14 February to lodge an appeal.
The Council of Ministers subsequently requested the court to clarify if the judgment had to be applied immediately, or if the MKO could be left on while member states consider whether to appeal, known legally as “a judgment with suspensive effect”. The Council also sought clarification on whether the suspension would continue if an appeal was launched.
The Council of Ministers argues that the EU courts’ statute says a judgment should have a suspensive effect when it annuls an EU regulation. The Council also argues that a previous ruling, also at the Court of First Instance, said that the blacklist updates are legally similar to regulations.
Since 4 December, member states have been working on the assumption that the judgment is in suspension and MKO’s name features on the blacklist after it was updated on 16 December. The update was limited to adding organizations believed to be linked to Spanish terrorist group ETA. The court’s decision not to provide a clarification means the stand off between the MKO and member states is likely to continue.
The MKO, whose main stronghold is in Iraq, is blacklisted by much of the international community, including the United States.
The MKO is on the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations subject to an EU-wide assets freeze, and has been designated by the US government as a foreign terrorist organization. Yet, the MKO puppet leader, Maryam Rajavi, who has residency in France, regularly visits Brussels and despite the ban enjoys full freedom in Europe.
The MKO is behind a slew of assassinations and bombings inside Iran, a number of EU parliamentarians said in a recent letter in which they slammed a British court decision to remove the MKO from the British terror list. The EU officials also added that the group has no public support within Iran because of their role in helping Saddam Hussein in the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988).
A May 2005 Human Rights Watch report accused the MKO of running prison camps in Iraq and committing human rights violations.
According to Human Rights Watch report, the outlawed group puts defectors under torture and jail terms.
The group, founded in the 1960s, blended elements of Islamism and Stalinism and participated in the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979. Ahead of the revolution, the MKO conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and Western targets.
Leaders of the group have been fighting to shed its terrorist tag after a series of bloody anti-Western attacks in the 1970s, and nearly 30 years of violent struggle against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In recent months, high-ranking MKO members have been lobbying governments around the world in the hope of acknowledgement as a legitimate opposition group.
The UK initiative, however, has prompted the European Union to establish relations with the exiled organization now based in Paris. The European Court of First Instance threw its weight behind the MKO in December and annulled its previous decision to freeze its funds.
The group started assassination of the citizens and officials after the revolution in a bid to take control of the newly established Islamic Republic. It killed several of Iran’s new leaders in the early years after the revolution, including the then President, Mohammad Ali Rajayee, Prime Minister, Mohammad Javad Bahonar and the Judiciary Chief, Mohammad Hossein Beheshti who were killed in bomb attacks by MKO members in 1981.
The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it was protected by Saddam Hussein and where it helped the Iraqi dictator suppress Shiite and Kurd uprisings in the country.
The terrorist group joined Saddam’s army during the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988) and helped Saddam and killed thousands of Iranian civilians and soldiers during the US-backed Iraqi imposed war on Iran.
Since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the group, which now adheres to a pro-free-market philosophy, has been strongly backed by neo-conservatives in the United States, who also argue for the MKO to be taken off the US terror list.
The MKO has been in Iraq’s Diyala province since the 1980s.