TEHRAN: Iran on Sunday put on trial the alleged leader of a US-based “terrorist group” accused of being behind a deadly mosque bombing in 2008, the judiciary said.
Iran-born Jamshid Sharmahd, 66, who is also a German national and a US resident, is charged with spreading “corruption on earth”, one of the most severe charges in the Islamic republic, and which carries the death penalty.
“The trial of Jamshid Sharmahd, the leader of the Tondar terrorist group, was held in public this morning,” the Judiciary’s Mizan Online agency said.
Sharmahd is “accused of corruption on earth by planning and directing terrorist acts,” it added, citing the indictment.
It includes “the bombing of a mosque in Shiraz (southern Iran) on April 12, 2008, which killed 14 people and injured approximately 300 others.”
Sharmahd appeared in court dressed in blue-striped prisoners’ pyjamas.
Iran, which does not recognise dual nationality for citizens, announced his arrest in August 2020 in a “complex operation”, without specifying how, where or when he was seized.
Prosecutors accuse Sharmahd of having established contact with “FBI and CIA officers” and of having “attempted to contact Israeli Mossad agents”, Mizan reported.
A representative of the victims’ families took the stand in court and asked for “the most severe punishment” for Sharmahd.
Videos were also screened in the court, which prosecutors said detailed some of the “terrorist acts” of the group.
Sharmahd was also seen in a video saying that “we are not ashamed to kill anyone”, Mizan reported. The trial continues.
Iran has criticised its arch-enemy Washington for having welcomed Sharmahd, accusing it “of supporting known terrorists who have claimed responsibility for several terrorist acts” in Iran.
Tondar, “thunder” in Farsi, also known as the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, aims to topple the Islamic republic. Iran classes it as a terrorist organisation.
According to Tondar’s website, Sharmahd was born in Tehran in 1955.
He grew up in an Iranian-German family, and moved to California in the United States in 2003, where he reportedly made statements both hostile to Iran and Islam on satellite television channels.
In 2009, Iran convicted and hanged three men for the Shiraz bombing, claiming they had links to the monarchist group and had taken their orders from “an Iranian CIA agent” based in the US in an attempt to assassinate a senior official in Iran.
In 2010, two other members of the group, Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour, who according to Tehran “confessed to planning to assassinate officials”, were also tried, convicted and hanged.