BANGKOK – Two Iranian men accused of a botched bomb plot that officials believe was aimed at Israeli diplomats in the Thai capital were in court Thursday awaiting the verdict in the case.
The men were detained shortly after a cache of homemade explosives accidentally blew apart the Bangkok villa where the men were staying in February 2012.
Israel says the men were readying for an Iranian-backed attack on Israeli interests. Iran has denied the allegations and both men have proclaimed their innocence, saying they had been unaware of the explosives in their home.
The defendants are 39-year-old Saeid Moradi and 43-year-old Mohammad Kharzei. Moradi, a factory technician from Tehran and a former soldier, lost his legs in another blast as he tried to flee. He was carrying explosives from the house and dropped them in the street as police chased him.
Both men face 20-year prison terms for the unlawful possession of explosives and damaging property. Moradi faces additional charges of attempting to murder a police officer and carrying explosives in a public place, and could be sentenced to death.
Their lawyer, Kittipong Kiattanapoom, told reporters in front of the courtroom Thursday, "We have fought in this case in every angle possible and hope the court will give us justice."
Moradi has said he was carrying the explosives out of the house in an attempt to dispose of them. He said he was not aware that the explosives were similar to "sticky" bombs used against Israeli diplomats in foiled attacks a day earlier 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.