• Short Summary

    Iran's Panamanian lawyer Juan Vasquez held a news conference in the Iranian Embassy in Paris on Wednesday (5 March).

  • Description

    SV INTERIOR M. Juan Vasquez and French interpreter speaking to newsmen, in Iranian Embassy in Paris

    SV INTERIOR Newsmen listening as Mr Vasquez continues speaking (2 shots)

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    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: Iran's Panamanian lawyer Juan Vasquez held a news conference in the Iranian Embassy in Paris on Wednesday (5 March). Speaking through a French interpreter he said he was confident the Iranian government would file a case by March 24 seeking the extradition of the former Shah now living in exile in Panama.

    SYNOPSIS: Mr Vasquez is a former Panamanian Justice Minister and Supreme court President. He has been visiting Iran to help in preparing the case for extradition of the Shah. He told newsmen he had seen President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, Foreign Minister Sadeq Ghotbzadeh and the Justice authorities. He confirmed that the Iranian government was compiling a case against the ex-Shah accusing him of misappropriating funds from the Central Bank and confiscating agricultural lands.

    Mr Vasquez told the news conference that many legal and technical problems had to be overcome, including the fact that diplomatic relations don't exist between Panama and Iran. He said that every document relating to the case had to be translated from Farsi into English and French and then into Spanish. And every translation had to be authenticated at each stage in Spain, considered a common friendly country, before the case could be put to Panama's Supreme Court.

    Mr Vasquez went on to say that if the Iranian authorities wanted an extradition hearing in Panama they would have to agree to present the ex-Shah not as a political criminal, but as a common-law criminal with access to normal defence facilities.

    He explained that under Panama's constitution and laws the former Shah could not be extradited unless the Iranian government pledged not to execute him. Mr Vasquez stressed that Panama couldn't legally grant extradition in any case where the punishment for an alleged crime carried the death penalty. He said that he had made this point clear in his discussions with Iranian authorities but so far the Iranian government had not agreed to the conditions for extradition.

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