Washington, DC, USA & Moscow, Russia & Berlin, Germany, 10th April 1997
1. US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns walks into press briefing
2. Wide shot of Burns at podium
3. Cutaway of journalists taking notes
4. SOUNDBITE: Nicholas Burns, US State Department spokesman
5. Rear angle cutaway shot of press
6. SOUNDBITE: Nicholas Burns, US State Department spokesman
7. Wide shot of Burns at podium
8. Nateq-Nouri emerges from meeting and walks up to camera
9. Close up of Nateq-Nouri
10. SOUNDBITE: Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri (Farsi) - not literal translations
11. Mid shot of Nateq-Nouri
12. Wide shot of exiled dissidents chanting with banners and posters.
13. Various shots of people being searched going into court.
14. Defendants' lawyers entering courtroom; Detlev Kolloge, Thomas Baumeyer.
15. Cutaway of press.
16. SOUNDBITE:(German) Hans Joachim Erig, Prosecution Lawyer for Victims' Families.
17. File photo of three murdered Iranian opposition activists (left to right: Sadiq Sharafkindi, General Secretary of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Iran; Nuri Dekhordi, a translator, an unidentified friend and Fetah Abduli, the European representative of the Kurdish Democratic Party.)
18. Wide shot of police holding back cheering crowds outside court as verdict is announced.
A German court ruling that Iran's top leaders ordered the assassination of four of its exiled opposition leaders has shaken relations between the Tehran government and western nations.
The ruling prompted the U-S to urge the European Union Thursday to join the U-S economic boycott of Iran and take other steps to isolate Iran's leadership.
Some E-U countries have said they are considering a withdrawal of their Tehran ambassadors whilst breaking off their "critical dialogue" policy of openly discussing human rights and terrorism but maintaining business ties.
The court verdict has also provoked a war of words between Germany and Iran, both of which recalled their ambassadors Thursday and expelled four of the other's diplomats.
U-S President Bill Clinton's administration has been waging a mostly lonely campaign to isolate both Iran and Iraq as sponsors of terrorism.
Thursday's German court ruling confirmed that the "highest state levels" in Iran ordered the assassination of Iranian Kurdish leader Sadiq Sarafkindi and three of his colleagues.
For Washington, the verdict further proved its point.
"The verdict today, which clearly implicates the government of Iran in the murder, the assassination of four Iranian citizens in Berlin several years ago, is further evidence that the government of Iran is dedicated to direct sponsorship, operational and financial, of acts of terrorism."
SUPERCAPTION: Nicholas Burns, State Department spokesman.
Burns said the European Union's current policy of "critical dialogue" - the practice of continuing relations and profitable trade with Tehran whilst raising terrorism and human rights issues - had not moderated Iran's behaviour.
"And we hope that the European Union will join the United States in a realistic policy that is aimed at containing Iran, and containing its ability to further destabilise the Middle East, and to murder its own citizens abroad."
SUPERCAPTION: Nicholas Burns, State Department spokesman
The Clinton administration has been trying to isolate Iran on grounds it sponsored such acts of terror - claims which Tehran has angrily denied.
Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, Iran's Parliamentary speaker, was in Moscow on an official visit Thursday, when the Berlin court made its ruling.
Nateq-Nouri was meeting Duma speaker, Gennady Seleznyev, but the focus of his visit rapidly changed as the court case verdict in Germany sparked an international diplomatic row.
The Berlin court jailed one Iranian man and three Lebanese accomplices but also charged that the men had received their orders from leaders in Iran.
Nateq-Nouri issued a statement in Moscow, from his government denying any involvement in the murders of four exiled dissidents in 1992.
Speaking Farsi, translated into Russian by his interpreter Nateq-Nouri said the accusations were untrue and the court verdict a political result.
"Was, unfortunately, of a political nature. ...We believe the accusations do not correspond to the facts. We asked the leadership of Germany more than once to present us with the documents in relation with this case, if any available, but up till now the German leadership has not presented any documents. We believe the trial has a political nature, unfortunately and we are waiting for the just sentence in order to build up our policy in accordance with this decision."
SUPER CAPTION: Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, Iranian Parliamentary speaker
The ruling has badly shaken German-Iranian relations and other European countries could now join Germany in withdrawing their ambassadors.
Crowds of Iranian and Kurdish dissidents gathered outside the Berlin court where the trial ended earlier Thursday.
These exiles had hoped for a guilty verdict for the men on trial for the assassination of a group of Kurdish dissident leaders in a restaurant in 1992.
Inside the courthouse, security was tight as people and their belongings were searched upon entry.
Pushing their way past journalists, the defendants' lawyers entered the courtroom to hear the verdict.
The judges convicted two men of murder and two others of being accessories to murder in the September 17th, 1992, killing of Iranian-Kurdish leader Sadiq Sharafkindi and three of his colleagues.
Presiding Judge Frithjof Kubsch said the men had no personal motive, but were following orders.
The judge said the Iranian political leadership was responsible.
He added that the Iranian's government goal was to eliminate political dissidents.
"The court had determined that a committee for special proceedings is responsible for this contract to eliminate. That the religious leaders, state president, foreign minister and secret service minister have a seat and a voice in this committee. Therefore the Iran leadership is directly responsible for this order to murder and other orders to murder that have been given in the past."
SUPER CAPTION: Hans Joachim Erig, Prosecution Lawyer for Victims Families
Eight Iranian opposition leaders were enjoying a meal at a Berlin restaurant when two gunmen stormed in and opened fire in September 1992.
Four men were killed in the attack: Sadiq Sharafkindi, the General Secretary of the Kurdish Democratic Party (P-D-K) of Iran; Fetah Abduli, an international representative of the P-D-K; Nurullah Mohammadpur-Dehkordi, a translator; and Homayoun Ardalan, the P-D-K's representative in Germany.
In all, five men were brought to trial to face charges in connection with the murder, although one was acquitted.
Outside the courthouse, hundreds of dissidents cheered and danced when they heard the verdict.
However they continued their call for an end to German trade with Iran, many making their point by carrying signs, bearing messages like, "Stop the murderous regime in Iran."