Nine face death in Iran for ‘colluding with Israel’ to kill top nuclear scientist. Source: THE TIMES OF ISRAEL / AFP

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Nine face death in Iran for ‘colluding with Israel’ to kill top nuclear scientist

Defendants also charged with ‘corruption on earth’ over 2020 assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who Jerusalem had accused of leading Iranian efforts to develop atomic bomb

By AFP and TOI staff Today, 6:59 pm

This photo released by the semi-official Fars News Agency shows the scene where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, Tehran, Iran, Nov. 27, 2020 (Fars News Agency via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Nine people will face the death penalty in Iran over the assassination of one of the country’s top nuclear scientists, the judiciary said Tuesday.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed when his car was ambushed on a highway outside Tehran in November 2020, in an attack Iran blamed on its regional arch-foe Israel.

The nine defendants were charged with “corruption on earth” and collusion with Israel, both capital offenses in the Islamic Republic, judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayeshi said.

“Fakhrizadeh’s case has 15 defendants,” Setayeshi told a news conference.

Along with those facing the death penalty, a further six people had “other accusations” leveled against them, he said.

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In September, Tehran’s chief prosecutor Ali Salehi had announced 14 people were indicted in the case.

The charges against them included “colluding with the purpose of disrupting national security” and “actions against national security,” Salehi said at the time.

Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in an undated photo. (courtesy)

In 2018, the Israeli government accused Fakhrizadeh of leading Iran’s efforts to build an atomic bomb, a claim Iran has always vehemently denied.

Fakhrizadeh had been under US sanctions for his role in Iran’s nuclear program when he was killed.

Iranian authorities claimed the attack included a bombing and a remote-controlled machine gun.

Iran has threatened revenge for the killing.

Israel has not publicly commented on the allegation that it was responsible, though former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen confirmed last year that Fakhrizadeh was long in the spy agency’s sights.

Iran frequently arrests, jails and executes individuals it accuses of spying for foreign nations, without offering proof.

Iran and Israel have been engaged in a years-long shadow war, but tensions have ratcheted up following a string of high-profile incidents Tehran has blamed on Israel.

On Sunday Iran said it had executed four people it accused of working for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.

Three others received lengthy prison sentences.

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