Roseau, Dominica (TDN)
In the wake of the recent arrest and extradition to Iran of Dominican diplomat Alireza Ziba Halat Monfared, questions are being raised about the role of the Dominica government in protecting the fugitive following the issuance of an international arrest warrant by Interpol.
The Iranian FARS News Agency reported recently that the Iranian authorities initially issued an arrest warrant for Monfared while he was still resident in Malaysia. However, he was able to evade the authorities and fled to Dominica with a significant amount of cash.
According to FARS despite diplomatic pressure being placed on the government of Dominica it refused to arrest Monfared. TDN has confirmed that Monfared arrived in Dominica sometime in January 2016, and stayed until September of that year.
A recent press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dominica confirms that they knew as early as January 2016 that Monfared was wanted by the Iranian authorities. They however stopped short from explaining why he was allowed to remain in Dominica for a further nine months in full public view.
Monfared later left for the Dominican Republic under the guise that he was seeking treatment for cancer. On January 15, 2017 Interpol agents successfully tracked him down in that country and had him arrested. He was then flown to Havana, Cuba and from there to Moscow and finally Teheran.
Monfared is accused of involvement in the largest embezzlement scandal in Iranís history and has been fingered as a co-conspirator with Ali Zanjani who was sentenced to death for his role in diverting billions of dollars for personal use while involved in a scheme to bypass oil sanctions imposed on Iran.
Zanjaniís lawyers continue to insist on his innocence and say the arrest and further interrogation of Monfared will lead to new information, which will assist in proving their assertion.