BRUSSELS (AFP) — A European court on Thursday annulled an EU decision to freeze the assets of the main Iranian opposition in exile, though the group remains on the terror list for the time being.
The Court of First Instance ruled that the EU had "failed to give sufficient reasons" to keep the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI) on the list, following a British court decision to remove them from its national list.
It was the second such ruling by the court, which is Europe's second-highest tribunal.
The European Union had justified its decision to disregard the British court judgement by arguing that the government there had initially considered appealing against the ruling. But the Luxembourg court said that this was "not sufficient".
The British interior minister had since been denied the right to appeal the decision on the grounds that "none of the arguments put forward stood a reasonable chance of succeeding," the EU court said.
For the time being however, the group remains on the current version of the EU terror blacklist. The EU terror list is only updated every six months and Thursday's court ruling refers to an EU decision in December 2007, not the current list.
The European Council of member states in July placed the Iranian opposition group on its latest terror list, citing "new information" on the group, which has not been made public.
But given that the Luxembourg court handed down a similar ruling on the group in December 2006, this latest verdict increases the pressure on the European Union to heed the court and keep the PMOI name off future lists.
The EU's decision was based on measures implemented to respect a UN Security Council resolution drawn up in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks requiring countries to crack down on terror funding.
Founded in 1965 with the aim of replacing first the Shah and then the clerical regime in Iran, PMOI has in the past operated an army inside Iran.
It was the armed wing of the France-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) but it renounced violence in June 2001.
Exiled Iran opposition leader Maryam Rajavi -- who has residency in France -- hailed the latest court ruling as "victory".
The decision proved that the EU's "insistence on keeping the PMOI on this list has no legal or judicial base," she told AFP.
The EU's position was just "a concession made to the mullahs (in Tehran) which allows them to maintain their religious dictatorship," she added.
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