A Dutch prosecutor has said there is no evidence the two men on trial for the 2015 murder of an Iranian-born man living in the Netherlands were carrying out a hit ordered by the Iranian intelligence apparatus.
A man known as Ali Mo’tamed was gunned down in front of his home in the Dutch town of Almere in December 2015. The Dutch daily Het Parool cited court documents stating that the man’s true identity was Mohammad Reza Kolahi Samadi, and that he was “most certainly” the man accused by Iranian authorities of perpetrating the deadliest terrorist attack the country has ever seen.
The mysterious circumstances of Samadi’s murder have led to suspicion it could have been a hit ordered by Iran’s intelligence services in retribution for the attack.
Samadi reportedly entered the Netherlands under the false identity of Ali Mo’tamed as a refugee in the 1980s, having fled Iran after the June 28, 1981 bombing of the Islamic Republic Party headquarters which left more than 70 dead, including the nascent regime’s Chief-Justice Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, who was considered the number 2 man of the newly established Islamic Republic after its founder Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini.
Earlier this year, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said there were “strong indications” that Iranian security services were involved in the assassination of 56-year-old Samadi, as well as the killing of another Dutch national of Iranian origin, activist Ahmad Molla Nissi, 52, who founded an Arab nationalist group seeking an independent state inside Iran. Nissi was gunned down in 2017.
The Dutch intelligence agency has said a new report suggests Iranian security services may have had a hand in the murders.
The EU has imposed sanctions on two Iranians and the country’s military intelligence service in response to the allegations, and the Dutch government expelled two Iranian diplomats and summoned the Iranian ambassador in June 2018 to answer the allegations. Tehran denies any involvement in the murders.
Exiled Iranian political activist Morteza Sadeqi, who has followed Samadi’s case closely, says it is virtually impossible to prove Iran’s involvement in the murders because of the heavy burden of proof in Dutch law, but that it would not be out of character for the Islamic Republic’s security services to commission an assassination on European soil.
"Tehran believes that since it cooperates with U.S. and EU in some terror-related intelligence affairs in the region (Mideast), it has the right to assassinate its opponents sheltered in Europe who have a record of armed rebellion and operations inside Iran,” Sadeqi told Radio Farda.
The two men accused of killing Samadi have been identified as 28-year-old Anouar A.B., a naturalized Dutch citizen, and 35-year-old Moreo M, the Dutch daily Het Parool reported, adding, “Both suspects have criminal records and come from the Bijlmer neighborhood of Amsterdam.”
The Bijlmer neighborhood has developed a reputation as a home to criminal elements in recent years.
Based on their names, neither of the suspects appears to be of Iranian origin. However, according to security experts, Iran has a record of hiring foreigners, mainly Lebanese and Palestinians, to assassinate its enemies abroad.
The Dutch Prosecutor-general recently disclosed that the two suspects received the assassination order from a professional criminal, Naoufal F, who has a long criminal record and is also facing charges in connection with Samadi’s murder.
One of the two men accused of Samadi’s murder has confessed, saying he did not know Samadi’s true identity when he carried out the assassination orders.
Dutch news outlets have also interviewed Naoufel F's attorney, who says that there is no evidence connecting Samadi’s assassination to the Islamic Republic.
However, many Iran analysts agree with the Dutch foreign minister and intelligence service’s assessment that Iran likely ordered both Samadi and Nissi’s assassinations.