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Son of Iran's former president begins 10-year prison term

Ali Akbar Dareini (Associated Press) - August 9, 2015 - 5:10pm

TEHRAN — A son of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani began a 10-year prison sentence yesterday after his conviction on corruption and security charges, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Before entering Tehran's Evin prison, Mahdi Hashemi Rafsanjani called his conviction "unjust" and "politically motivated." He once again called for his closed-door trial to be broadcast on state television, a request already rejected by authorities. Several members of Rafsanjani's family stood by his side before he entered the prison.

Critics view Rafsanjani's trial and conviction as a way for hard-liners to weaken his father ahead of crucial parliamentary elections in February. A simultaneous vote also will elect members of the Assembly of Experts, a top clerical body that appoints or dismisses the country's supreme leader. The elder Rafsanjani has said he'd run for the assembly.

The 85-year old Rafsanjani is a centrist politician who has promoted pragmatism and moderation in Iran but is detested by hard-liners. His public support was one major reason why moderate President Hassan Rouhani won Iran's 2013 presidential election.

His son, Mahdi Hashemi, was sentenced in March after being convicted on three charges involving national security, fraud and bribery. He was acquitted of espionage charges, but has been banned from public service.

Mahdi Hashemi Rafsanjani is the former president's second-eldest son. He briefly was imprisoned in 2012 before standing trial on charges of fomenting unrest in the aftermath of Iran's disputed 2009 presidential election that former hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won. Since the former president backed Ahmadinejad's reformist challenger, his family has come under tremendous pressure and faced charges in court accusing them of various crimes, all of which they have denied.

AHMADINEJAD ASSEMBLY OF EXPERTS CHARGES EVIN IRANIAN PRESIDENT AKBAR HASHEMI RAFSANJANI MAHDI HASHEMI MAHDI HASHEMI RAFSANJANI MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI RAFSANJANI TEHRAN
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