x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Thai court convicts two Iranians in bomb plot

Two Iranian men were convicted yesterday of taking part in a botched bomb plot that was exposed last year when an accidental explosion blew apart the Bangkok villa in which they were living.

BANGKOK // Two Iranian men were convicted yesterday of taking part in a botched bomb plot that was exposed last year when an accidental explosion blew apart the Bangkok villa in which they were living.

Israeli and Thai officials have said the plot was aimed at Israeli diplomats in Bangkok, although Iran denied the allegations and neither defendant was charged with terrorism or attempting to kill Israelis.

A Thai court sentenced 29-year-old Saeid Moradi to life in prison for attempting to murder a police officer and possessing explosives that damaged property and injured several civilians.

Mohammad Kharzei, 43, was jailed for 15 years for possessing explosives.

They were detained in February last year, shortly after a cache of homemade explosives accidentally blew apart their villa. Both claimed they had been unaware of the explosives in their home.

Their lawyer, Kittipong Kiattanapoom, said he would consult with both men and their families to find out whether they wanted to appeal.

Moradi, a factory technician from Tehran and former soldier, had faced the death sentence.

He lost both his legs in an explosion on a crowded Bangkok street as he tried to flee after the blast at the villa. He was carrying explosives from the house and dropped them in the street as police chased him.

Moradi said he was carrying the explosives out of the house in an attempt to dispose of them.

He also said he was not aware that the explosives were similar to "sticky" bombs used a day before the Bangkok incident against Israeli diplomats in foiled attacks in India and the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Investigators said the bombs found at the Bangkok property had round, coin-like magnets on them.

Kharzei insisted he was not a terrorist and had nothing to do with the explosions. He said he had not known Moradi until they met at an airport in Tehran before boarding their flight to Thailand.

Another Iranian suspect, Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, 31, was detained in Malaysia, where he has appealed an extradition order. He met Moradi and Kharzei in the Thai city of Pattaya, and fled to Malaysia the day after the explosion.

Israel believes the botched plot was part of a covert war against Israeli interests abroad which has intensified in recent years because of Iran's alleged quest to develop nuclear weapons.

The Israeli ambassador to Thailand, Simon Roded, called the two suspects "terrorists" and said: "This sentence proves once again that Iran is engaged in the proliferation of terror all around the world."