BANGKOK — A Bangkok court sentenced an Iranian man to life in prison for a botched bomb plot last year that officials believe was aimed at Israeli diplomats in the Thai capital. His accomplice, also an Iranian national, received a sentence of 15 years.
The Iranians were detained shortly after a cache of homemade explosives accidentally blew apart the villa where the men were staying in February 2012.
Israeli and Thai officials have said the plot was aimed at Israeli diplomats in Bangkok, the capital, though Iran denied the allegations and neither defendant was charged with terrorism or attempting to kill Israelis.
Saeid Moradi, 29, was sentenced to life in prison for attempting to murder a police officer and possessing explosives that damaged property and injured several civilians. Mohammad Kharzei, 43, received 15 years in jail for possessing explosives.
Moradi, a factory technician from Tehran and a former soldier, had faced a death sentence.
He lost his legs as he tried to flee the villa on a crowded Bangkok street. He was carrying explosives from the house and dropped them in the street as police chased him.
Moradi had 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 against Israeli diplomats in foiled attacks a day before the Bangkok incident in India and the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Investigators said the bombs found at the Bangkok home had round, coin-like magnets on them.
Kharzei has testified that he was not a terrorist and had nothing to do with the explosions. He says he had not known Moradi until they met at an airport in Tehran before boarding their flight to Thailand.
Another suspect, Iranian 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.
The incident happened a day after the wife of an Israeli Defense Ministry attache in New Delhi, India, was wounded in an attack on her car. Israel believes that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were behind the attack, as do Indian authorities according to an investigation conducted last year.
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.”
The Israeli government’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued a strident travel warning on Monday, listing dozens of countries where it said it had “concrete” indications of a terrorist threat.
It cited concerns about terrorist acts timed to coincide with the forthcoming Rosh Hashana (New Year), Yom Kippur and Succot festivals, and also said that the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US was likely to be “a favored period” for al-Qaeda and other global jihadist groups to attempt to carry out acts of terrorism.
Iran and Hezbollah, it warned, were also continuing their “global terror campaign” against Israeli and Jewish targets.
It said its information indicated that Israeli businessmen and ex-government officials were prime potential targets for assassination and/or kidnapping.