Last Updated: Mon Oct 10, 2011 22:16 pm (KSA) 19:16 pm (GMT)

EU targets three Iranian government ministers in new set of sanctions

Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi, responsible for the infamous Evin prison’s torture ward, section 209, is one of the ministers targeted in the new EU sanctions. (Photo by Reuters)
Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi, responsible for the infamous Evin prison’s torture ward, section 209, is one of the ministers targeted in the new EU sanctions. (Photo by Reuters)

Three Iranian government ministers are on a list of 29 people targeted by new European Union sanctions, diplomatic sources told AFP on Monday.

The present ministers for intelligence (secret services), justice and culture are joined by a former interior minister as well as regional governors, prosecutors and prison directors, the sources added.

The sanctions will take effect on Tuesday when they are published in the EU’s legal log, the Official Journal.

EU foreign ministers signed off the Iranian travel bans and asset freezes, alongside other sanctions on Belarus in Luxembourg on Monday.

They follow a previous wave of restrictive measures in March against 32 Iranians, as well as plans to hit the Commercial Bank of Syria, targeted by a U.S. assets freeze in August, according to diplomats.

Heydar Moslehi, intelligence minister, is responsible for the infamous Evin prison’s torture ward, section 209.

Moslehi stands accused of ordering arbitrary detentions and persecution of opposition figures.

Culture Minister Mohammad Hosseini is held responsible for press censorship as well as the arrests of journalists and artists, the same sources said.

Justice Minister Seyyed Morteza Bakhtiair is said to have harassed prominent Iranians living abroad.

Former interior minister Sadeq Mahsouli and the head of the Iranian police’s computer crimes squad are also on the list, for investigations into opposition figures using the Internet.

In Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko has thrown hundreds of opponents behind bars, four of 16 people blacklisted are believed to be involved in a court case against the head of a top human rights group, Ales Beliatsky, that has sparked global outrage and calls for his release.

The 27-nation bloc last month banned the delivery to Syria’s central bank of bank-notes and coins produced in the EU in a seventh round of sanctions designed to step up economic pressure on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The last round also included a ban on European firms making new investments in Syria’s oil industry, biting further at Assad’s regime after an earlier ban on imports of Syrian crude to Europe.

Europe buys 95 percent of Syria’s oil exports, providing the regime with one third of its hard currency earnings.

The sanctions against Syria come on the heels of growing irritation against Russia and China in the EU and the United States, for their veto of a U.N. resolution against the Syrian regime’s unrelenting crackdown on protests.

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