LUXEMBOURG (CN) - Europe's second-highest court annulled a European Union resolution freezing the funds of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, saying the EU failed to explain the Iranian opposition group's continued inclusion on a list of terrorist organizations.
The group, referred to as the PMOI, challenged two resolutions - issued in June and December 2007 - that kept the group on a list of actual and potential terrorists.
The PMOI was founded in 1965 with the goal of replacing the Iranian government with a democracy and maintains that it's not involved in terrorism. Though it initially had an armed branch operating in Iran, it claims to have renounced all military activity since June 2001.
In May 2002, the Council of the European Union ordered the group's funds frozen in the fight against terrorism. The Court of First Instance annulled that decision in 2006, concluding that the Council had no right to lump the opposition group with terrorist organizations without providing a fair hearing and proper justification.
But the Council never took the PMOI off the list, saying its grounds for keeping it there were valid. The PMOI urged the EU to reconsider, but the Council refused to budge.
In November 2007, the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission allowed the group to appeal the Home Secretary's refusal to lift the group's classification as a terrorist organization. Agreeing with the PMOI, the appeal commission called the Home Secretary's conclusion "perverse" and "unreasonable."
A month later, the Council adopted a second resolution updating the list. The PMOI was again included on that list. The Council explained that "new information concerning the group has been brought to the Council's attention. The Council considers that this new information warrants the group's inclusion on the list."
The Court of First Instance declined to annul the first resolution, but ruled that the Council failed to explain the "specific and concrete reasons" for refusing to delist the PMOI the second time around. Further, the second resolution all but ignored the appeal commission's findings, the court ruled.
After weighing the evidence, the court concluded that "proper and sufficient reasons have not been adduced for the continued freezing of the applicant's funds."
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.