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France Releases Killer Of Exiled Former Iranian Prime Minister

A French court has ordered the release of an Iranian man convicted of killing exiled former Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar nearly two decades ago.

The decision comes just two days after Iran released a French teaching assistant accused of spying amid the unrest that followed Iran's disputed presidential election in June 2009.

Ali Vakili Rad was serving a life sentence for the murder of Bakhtiar, Shah Pahlavi's last prime minister, at his home outside Paris in 1991.

Bakhtiar had fled Iran following the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Vakili Rad became eligible for parole last year.

France's interior minister already has signed a deportation order paving the way for his return to Iran.

Vakili Rad would be the second Iranian freed by French courts in less than two weeks, leading to speculation of a deal between Tehran and Paris to secure the release of French teaching assistant Clotilde Reiss.

Both Paris and Tehran deny the existence of any such deal.

compiled from agency reports