Israel Fails to Prevent Germany Freeing Iranian

The government of Israel failed in its quest to convince Germany not to release Kazem Darabi, an Iranian arrested 15 years ago in connection with a political assassination.

In an attempt to prevent Darabi's release, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Chancellor Angela Merkel, but she told him the matter was being handled by the book, and he would be released after serving two thirds of his sentence.

Darabi was part of a deal brokered between Israel and Hezbollah in 2004. In the deal, 400 Palestinian terrorists were released, as well as other prisoners, including Mustafa Dirani and Sheikh Obeid, in exchange for the bodies of three Israel Defense Forces killed at Har Dov in 2000 and Elhanan Tannenbaum.

The deal included another stage, in which Germany offered to release Darabi if Hezbollah offered information on the captured Israeli air force navigator, Ron Arad. Hezbollah failed to offer any information and the deal fell through.

Darabi, who had a grocery store in Berlin, was an intelligence agent working for Iran. Along with three Lebanese nationals, he was charged with the killing of three members of Iran's Kurdish opposition and their translator in September 1992.

Darabi was convicted and sentenced to a life term, which German law sets at 20 years.

At that same ruling, the court declared Iran's minister of intelligence at the time, Ali Fallahiyan, responsible for ordering the killing and issued an international warrant against him. Germany also issued a warrant against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and then President, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

According to Channel 1 Tuesday, members of the Arad family intend to travel to Germany next week in a final attempt to convince the German authorities not to release Darabi.

There was no immediate comment from the Prime Minister's Bureau.