By: Mir M.Hosseini
Shapour Bakhtiar, Iran's last Prime Minister before the Islamic revolution of 1979, was found dead at his home outside Paris. His throat had been cut while at least four security officers were guarding his house. Bakhtiar was appointed Prime Minister by the Shah in January 1979 in a desperate attempt to save the monarchy but he lasted only 39 days in office. Although he somehow paved the way for Khomeini's safe arrival from France, he was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court in May 1980 soon before he showed up in Paris where he formed the National Resistance Movement with headquarters in different European countries and two radio stations broadcasting his message to Iran. The Iranian regime was busy with eliminating political dissidents at the time.
In less than two months, France and Iran settled a dispute over a $1 billion loan granted by Shah.
French political and economic relationship with Iran are very suspicious. Iran-France relations were cut in 1987, after Iran refused to handle an embassy employee to be interrogated for bombings in Paris in 1986. After Hezbollah released French hostages held in Lebanon, diplomatic ties were restored in 1988.
Born in 1915 in Bakhtiar tribal region SW Iran, Shapour Bakhtiar lost his mother at the age of seven. After attending primary school in Shahrekord, he went to Isfahan. Somehow he ended up in Lebanon where he received his high school diploma from a French school. He was graduated from the Sorbonne University in 1939, actively participated in a Spanish uprising against General Franco and joined the French Resistance against German occupation during the WWII.
He returned to Iran in 1946 and started an active political life which cost him 6 years in prison as an active co-founder of the National Front. But in 1979, when he accepted Shah's offer to become Prime Minister, he was expelled from the National Front, During his short term however, he lifted censorship, freed political prisons and dissolved SAVAK.
Shapour Bakhtiar escaped an assassination attempt by five gunmen in July 1980. On July 14, 1990, French President, Francois Mitterrand pardonned five people involved in the assassination attempt. The incident touched off a wave of protests in French jails. The decision to free the assassins was said to be made for reasons of state, as part of a broader agreement negotiated secretly with Iran in exchange for the release of French hostages in Lebanon.
Ali Vakili Rad admitted at trial that he had been sent by his government to France to kill Bakhtiar and he was convicted of the murder of Shapour Bakhtiar in 1994 and judges ordered that he serve a minimum of 18 years of a life sentence, which would keep him in jail until 2012.