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Guilty verdicts in German trial that seeks to link Iran to terrorism

April 10, 1997

BERLIN (AP) _ Four men were convicted today in the 1992 murder of an Iranian-Kurdish opposition figure in Berlin, in a trial that examined whether Iranian leaders were behind the killings of dissidents abroad.

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 men, 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.

The men were charged in the Sept. 17, 1992, murder of Kurdish leader Sadiq Sarafkindi and three of his colleagues in a restaurant.

Prosecutors contended that Iran’s powerful spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani had ordered the killings, but it was not immediately known whether the judges accepted that argument. After rendering the verdict, the judges read a lengthy explanation of their findings.

Security was stepped up around the courthouse and German officials warned of possible terrorist attacks because of the sensitivity of the case.

About 1,000 Iranian dissidents demonstrated outside the courthouse today with signs such as ``Stop the murderous regime in Iran.″ They called on Germany to stop doing business with Iran and for Iran’s expulsion from the United Nations.

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