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Iranian Court Sentences Son of Former President to 15 Years in Prison



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TEHRAN — An Iranian court handed down a 15-year prison sentence to the son of former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, after he was convicted of bribery and embezzlement, a judiciary official said on Sunday.

The official, Gholam Hosein Mohseni Ezhei, referred to the defendant only by his initials, M.H., and the semiofficial Fars News Agency said the conviction involved an “aghazadeh,” which is an Iranian term for a son of a high official.

“This person is sentenced to imprisonment for his security accusations,” Mr. Ezhei, a spokesman for Iran’s judiciary, said, according to the Islamic Student News Agency.

Those familiar with the inner workings of the Iranian government said the man was Mehdi Hashemi, 46, a businessman and politician who became a hated figure among Iranian hard-liners, partly because of his father, an advocate of changes that they opposed, but also because of accusations that he enriched himself during his father’s years in office.

When a court last month convicted Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, a former vice president who often opposed the Hashemi family and its allies, to five years in prison on corruption charges, many observers said they expected Mr. Hashemi’s conviction to be nearing, in a cycle not uncommon among warring Iranian political factions.

In 2004, a Norwegian court convicted Mr. Hashemi of having received a $15 million bribe from the Norwegian oil firm Statoil to use his influence to secure lucrative contracts for the company.

Mr. Hashemi played a major role in supporting those challenging former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. That election ended in the largest anti-government protests since the 1979 revolution, and Mr. Hashemi fled to London. He spent a few years in self-imposed exile in Britain and studied at Oxford before returning to Iran.

Mr. Hashemi has 20 days to appeal his sentence, and while many expect his imprisonment, most observers assumed his sentence would be lowered. His father last week lost an election to head the influential Assembly of Experts, a council that has the power to dismiss the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/16/world/middleeast/iranian-court-sentences-son-of-former-president-to-15-years-in-prison.html?_r=0

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