All five main Flemish political parties tabled the resolution in the Flemish and in the federal parliaments. The hope is that their actions will convince the Iranian authorities not to carry out the death sentence.
"For years now Iran has been trying to establish good relations with the EU" says Flemish Christian democrat lawmaker Ward Kennes. "At a time when the US is again eager to impose sanctions against Iran, the country is looking towards Europe more than ever. We wish to dispatch a clear signal. Good relations cannot be established if scientists are sentenced to death."
"Iran is experiencing enormous population growth and consequently requires a lot of scientific expertise. The country is eager to co-operate with our universities. Of course, this will not be possible, if the sentence is executed."
The resolution approved by the Flemish Parliament asks for EU sanctions against Iran to be extended if the death penalty is carried out, wants the matter raised in all Belgian contacts with Iran and urges Belgium to raise the matter with the EU.
Professor Ahmadreza Djalali works for the VUB, but one day he failed to turn up for work. He was tracked down in an Iranian jail cell where he had ended up after visiting family in Iran. Prof Djalali has been in jail for seven months now.
VUB rector Caroline Pauwels: "All we know he's accused of co-operating with enemy states, but it's not stipulated which ones. We do have cooperation with the US."