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Malaysian court: Iranian can be extradited to Thailand over Bangkok blasts

By the CNN Wire Staff
June 26, 2012 -- Updated 0124 GMT (0924 HKT)
The bombing crime scene in Bangkok on February 22.
The bombing crime scene in Bangkok on February 22.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Iranian suspect is wanted by the Thai authorities in relation to a string of blasts in Bangkok
  • Masoud Sedaghatzadeh was arrested in Kuala Lumpur a day after the bombings
  • A judge rules he can be extradited, but Sedaghatzadeh plans to apply to be released
  • Two other Iranian suspects are being held in Thailand, while two more are still at large

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (CNN) -- A Malaysian court has ruled that an Iranian man suspected of being involved with a series of bombs that went off in Bangkok in February can be extradited to Thailand.

Masoud Sedaghatzadeh is wanted by the Thai authorities for his alleged involvement in the Bangkok blasts along with several other Iranians.

It is not yet clear when Sedaghatzadeh will be extradited, as he plans to file an application to a higher court in Malaysia, seeking his release from prison.

The explosions in Bangkok did not cause any deaths, but the Thai authorities have said they were intended for Israeli diplomats. The devices used explosive materials that are not available in Thailand and were most likely smuggled in, the police have said.

The Bangkok blasts came a day after a device attached to an Israeli Embassy van in New Delhi exploded, and another device, found on an embassy car in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, was safety detonated.

Israeli officials blamed Iran for the attacks, but Tehran has denied the accusations.

On Monday, the Malaysian judge, Justice S.M Komathy Suppiah, ruled that Sedaghatzadeh be remanded in prison for as many as 15 days, pending an extradition order from the Minister of Home Affairs.

"In my view, the conduct of the respondent is inconsistent with that of an innocent man," she said, referring to Sedaghatzadeh. "I'm allowing the application for extradition and the respondent is to be detained in prison pending an order from the minister for his render."

The Malaysian prosecutor, Kamal Baharin Omar, said Sedaghatzadeh, 31, was arrested at Kuala Lumpur airport on February 15, a day after one of the bombs went off at a house in Bangkok.

Mr. Kamal said the Thai police had CCTV footage showing Sedaghatzadeh entering and leaving the house where the explosives were detonated.

He questioned why Sedaghatzadeh would leave the house and flee to Kuala Lumpur if he was not connected to the explosives.

"All the actions subsequent to the explosion do not show the innocence of the respondent," he said.

Sedaghatzadeh's lawyer, Mohamad Nashir Hussin, argued that the Thai police had not been able to show that the respondent was involved in the incident.

"There's no evidence that the respondent had any contact or had even seen the explosives in the house," he said.

Sedaghatzadeh, who was handcuffed and dressed in a polo shirt and jeans, told the court that he would file a habeas corpus, an application asking to be released from prison.

"I require more time to defend myself," he said through a translator.

The Thai authorities have detained two Iranian suspects in the case: Saeid Moradi, 28, whose legs were blown off by his own bomb; and Mohammad Khazaei, 42, who was taken into custody at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport as he tried to board a plane to Malaysia. Both are being held at a Bangkok prison until their next court appearance.

They and Sedaghatzadeh face charges that include joint assembly of explosive devices, joint possession of explosive devices without permits and causing an explosion injuring other persons. Moradi also faces charges of attempted killing of state officials on duty and the intentional attempted killing of other persons.

Two other suspects in the case are still at large, according to Gen. Pansiri Prapawat, the deputy national police chief who is heading the investigation into the bombings.

They are Nikkahfard Javad, a 52-year-old Iranian man, and Rohani Leila, an Iranian woman.

Thailand has issued an arrest warrant for the suspects and sent their names to Interpol's wanted list, Pansiri said.

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