A Nigerian court on Monday sentenced an alleged member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and his Nigerian accomplice to five years in jail each over an illegal arms shipment.
Azim Aghajani and Nigerian Ali Abbas Jega were detained in 2010 when authorities at a Lagos port discovered 13 containers of weapons that had been declared as construction materials.
“I now pronounce them guilty as charged,” said Federal High Court Judge Okechukwu Okeke, convicting the two on four of five criminal counts.
While the crimes in question carried a potential life sentence, the judge said he was swayed by a plea for leniency from the defence and by the conduct of the pair while in detention.
“In sentencing the accused I have taken into consideration the plea for mercy by the defence team, but the law has to take its course,” Okeke said.
The sentence will be counted retroactively from February 2011, when their trial began, meaning the men will walk free in under three years.
Iranian national Aghajani has denied having links with Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, insisting he was a private businessman conducting a legitimate transaction.
The United Nations added Aghajani to a blacklist last year, labelling him a Revolutionary Guard member tied to “Iranian support for terrorism and extremism worldwide”.
The United States has also put Aghajani on its national sanctions list.
Nigeria court convicts Iranian of illegal arms shipment