A European court is to rule tomorrow on a claim that the EU Council committed
a “fundamental error of law” in not removing the main Iranian opposition
group from a list of banned terrorist organisations.
The ruling from the European Court of First Instance is expected less than 24
hours after an application by the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran —
the PMOI — for the ban to be annulled. Normally, claimants have to wait
weeks or months for a ruling from the court, part of the European Court of
David Vaughan QC told the court in Luxembourg today that this was the 19th
time that the Council had named the PMOI as a terrorist organisation.
All previous bans had, in effect, been annulled. “The score to 18-nil to the
PMOI,” said Mr Vaughan. But every time the court annulled a Council
decision, he continued, the EU simply imposed a new six-month ban.
The PMOI's most recent victory, reported here,
was in October. But that related to a ban that had expired this summer. It’s
thought the court is anxious to deliver its ruling before the current ban
The EU Council, supported by France, argued at today’s hearing that the PMOI
should remain proscribed.
But Mr Vaughan pointed out that a ban by the Home Secretary had been
overturned by an English court earlier this year. The Government’s
application for permission to appeal had been dismissed by the Lord Chief
Justice and Parliament had voted to lift the UK ban in June.
Even so, he said, the EU Council “had replaced the freezing of funds under UK
law by an EU measure, notwithstanding the findings of the UK courts and of
the UK Parliament that the continued proscription of the PMOI was totally
without foundation, as the UK now accepts”.
Mr Vaughan said the PMOI had been blacklisted by the EU for some six years.
But everyone accepted that it had not done anything that could be described
as a terrorist act since 2001. Even before then, it had acted in
self-defence against a regime that “everyone regards as abhorrent”.