Former Iranian President Akbar Rafsanjani 'dies aged 82'

Sunday 08 January 2017 17:29
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File photo taken on 8 March, 2011 shows former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, attending a meeting of the top clerical body in Tehran
File photo taken on 8 March, 2011 shows former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, attending a meeting of the top clerical body in Tehran

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has died in hospital in Tehran where he was taken after suffering a heart attack on Sunday, state media has reported.

State-run Press TV said Rafsanjani, 82, died despite efforts by doctors to save him.

Residents said a crowd gathered outside the hospital where Rafsanjani was taken in the Tajrish neighbourhood in northern Tehran.

Rafsanjani was an influential figure in Iran, and headed the Expediency Council, a body which is intended to resolve disputes between the parliament and the Guardian Council. He was also a member of the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body that selects the supreme leader, Iran's most powerful figure.

Rafsanjani has been described as "a pillar of the Islamic revolution." His pragmatic policies - economic liberalization, better relations with the West and empowering Iran's elected bodies - appealed to many Iranians but was despised by hardliners.

His death is a big blow to moderates and reformists, depriving them of their most influential supporter in the Islamic establishment.

Since 2009 he and his family have faced criticism over their support for the opposition movement which lost that year's disputed election to former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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