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German court finds Iranian leaders ordered killing of dissident in Berlin

April 10, 1997

BERLIN (AP) _ A German court found today that the 1992 murder of an Iranian-Kurdish opposition figure in Berlin was ordered by the ``highest state levels″ in Iran.

The finding came as the judges convicted two men of murder and two others of accessory to murder in the Sept. 17, 1992, killing of Kurdish leader Sadiq Sarafkindi and three of his colleagues in a restaurant.

``The crime can be traced back to the highest state levels in Iran,″ the judges said.

The trial had drawn international attention because the judges were asked to consider whether Iranian leaders were behind the killings of dissidents abroad.

Washington has sought to isolate Iran internationally on grounds that it supported terrorism. Germany and other European Union countries, however, have pursued a policy of ``critical dialogue″ with Tehran, raising issues of terrorism and human rights while continuing to do business.

About 600 Iranian dissidents demonstrating outside the courtroom today called for an end to that policy, carrying signs such as: ``Stop the murderous regime in Iran.″

The three judges found Kazem Darabi, an Iranian who worked as a grocer in Berlin, and a Lebanese man, Abbas Rhayel, guilty of murder and sentenced them to life in prison.

Two other Lebanese, Youssef Amin and Mohamed Atris, were convicted of being accessories to murder. Amin was given 11 years and Atris five years and three months.

The fifth defendant, Atallah Ayad, also Lebanese, was acquitted.

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