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Iran Sentences Three Men To Death Over Bombing

The site of the mosque bombing in Shiraz in April

The site of the mosque bombing in Shiraz in April

TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran has sentenced three men to death for being involved in the fatal bombing of a mosque that killed 14 Iranians in the southern city of Shiraz in April, the hardline “Kayhan” newspaper reported.

Iran has accused the United States, Britain, and Israel of being behind the blast that also injured 200 others.

Rouzbeh Yahyazadeh, 32, Mohsen Eslamian, 21, and Ali Asghar Pashtar, 20, will be hanged in Shiraz after the Supreme Court upheld their sentences, said Ali Akbar Haidarifar, a representative of Tehran's prosecutor.

Haidarifar, who previously accused the three of being sent on a mission by Israeli intelligence services to carry out assassinations and military sabotage in Iran, did not say when the verdict was issued. "A Tehran Revolutionary court has found the three guilty as 'mohareb'” -- the term for one who wages war against God -- “and 'corrupt on the earth'," the newspaper quoted Haidarifar as saying.

Under Iranian law, all execution orders must be upheld by Iran's Supreme Court. "After their verdicts being upheld by the Supreme Court, the three will be hanged in Shiraz," he added.

A little-known Iranian Sunni Muslim dissident group made a claim on a website in June that it was behind the blast. Iran is overwhelmingly Shi'ite.

The death sentences follow the early November execution of an Iranian businessman convicted of spying on the military for Israel, the Islamic Republic's arch foe.

A further four people have been charged over the Shiraz blast and will be tried in the near future, Haidarifar said.

Tensions between Iran and Israel have been running high in recent months amid speculation the Jewish state might attack Iranian nuclear facilities which it believes form part of a covert weapons program.

Iran rejects the accusation and says it would retaliate for any military strikes launched by Israel, believed to be the only Middle Eastern country with nuclear arms, or the United States.

Last week, Haidarifar said the three had confessed in the hearing at a Revolutionary court, adding they had plans to carry out other bombings in the Islamic state.

Iran said on November 24 its elite Revolutionary Guards had broken up an alleged Israeli-linked network and the prosecutor's office has requested the death sentence for all members of "the spy network."