Iran airs "confessions" in killings of nuclear scientists

Mon Aug 6, 2012 6:33pm IST

* People shown in documentary were Israel agents -state TV

* Five Iranian researchers killed or attacked since 2010

By Yeganeh Torbati

DUBAI, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Iranian state television aired what it described as confessions of individuals accused of assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists, saying they worked as Israeli agents to sabotage the country's nuclear programme.

Five Iranian scientists and academics have been killed or attacked since 2010 in incidents believed to have targeted Iran's disputed nuclear programme, which the West says is aimed at producing a bomb.

Iran denies this, saying its nuclear programme has peaceful purposes, and denounced the killings of its scientists as acts of terrorism carried out by Western intelligence agencies and the Israeli Mossad.

In a documentary aired on Sunday evening, called "Terror Club" and set to a dramatic score, a group of men and women sit against black backgrounds and confess to receiving weeks of training in Israel, then returning to Iran to carry out the killings of nuclear scientists.

One man interviewed, Behzad Abdoli, said he was taken to a training camp whose location was censored in the film.

"I had military training there, training in riding motorcycles, shooting, personal defence," Abdoli said. "They gave us information training as well ... how to take pictures, for example. It took about 40, 45 days."

The film, which did not say whether the individuals had faced trial or when that might happen, showed re-enactments of the killings with the suspects narrating how they were carried out.

It included pictures of a purported camp located outside Tel Aviv. Abdoli said he travelled to Israel via Turkey and Cyprus.

The documentary's narrator said a "neighbouring country" had assisted in delivering the suspects to Israel undetected.

Iranian intelligence chief Heydar Moslehi said last month that the Islamic Republic had shut down two networks inside and outside the country that he said were involved in training the killers.

The killings, mysterious explosions at military sites and a computer virus, Stuxnet, which damaged Iranian centrifuges and was discovered in 2010, appeared to form part of a covert sabotage campaign aimed at impeding its nuclear programme.

The United States has denied involvement in the assassinations, while Israel has remained silent.

Human rights organisations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have accused Iran in the past of obtaining bogus confessions from suspects in custody using physical abuse and threats.

"In many instances, torture and other ill-treatment are used to extract 'confessions' under duress," Drewery Dyke, Iran researcher at Amnesty International, told Reuters in an email. "Accusations of torture are routinely ignored in court and not investigated, while 'confessions' extracted under duress are accepted as evidence."

Iran's English-language Press TV aired a documentary in 2011 showing the purported confession of Majid Jamali Fashi, a 24-year-old kickboxer who Iran said had received training from Israel to kill Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, a 50-year-old Tehran University professor in January 2010.

Ali-Mohammadi was killed when a remote-controlled bomb attached to a motorcycle outside his home in Tehran detonated.

Fashi was hanged at Tehran's Evin Prison in May. (Editing by Mark Heinrich)