TITLE=GERMAN / IRAN (L)
INTRO: A court in Iran has released a German man once
sentenced to death for having illegal sex with an
Iranian woman. The court fined the man for insulting
a prison guard and says he is free to leave the
country, ending a two-year ordeal. Correspondent
Scott Bobb has details from our Middle East Bureau in
TEXT: German businessman Helmut Hofer told reporters
in Tehran that he is happy and plans to return home
Friday. His lawyer said the businessman was given
back his passport and told he could leave the country
after paying a fine for his latest conviction. Mr.
Hofer subsequently left the court building accompanied
by German diplomats.
Mr. Hofer had been free on bail since last month. He
spent most of the past two-years in prison after being
sentenced to death for having an affair with an
unmarried Iranian woman. Such an act is punishable by
death in Iran for a non-Muslim, but Mr. Hofer pleaded
he had converted to Islam and the Supreme Court one-
year ago ordered a new trial.
He was subsequently convicted of a lesser charge and
paid a fine.
The businessman was detained again; first for having
what were termed suspicious contacts, and subsequently
for insulting a prison guard.
The German Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying
it is pleased with the court's decision.
The conclusion of the Hofer case followed by one-day
the conviction by a court in Berlin of an Iranian
citizen charged with spying on Iranian dissidents in
Germany. Hamid Khorsand received a suspended sentence
for espionage, which his lawyer said would be
The Iranian government has denied the Hofer case was
linked in any way to the case in Germany.
Nevertheless, the German government made it clear that
better relations between the two governments hinged on
a satisfactory resolution of the charges against its
The Hofer case hurt relations with Germany as Iranian
ties to other European governments improved. Iranian
President Mohamed Khatami made official visits to
Italy and France this past year. He reportedly has
been invited to visit Germany. (SIGNED)
20-Jan-2000 12:20 PM EDT (20-Jan-2000 1720 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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