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Tens of thousands of Iranians have turned out in the capital Tehran for the funeral of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will perform prayers at the ceremony, which is being held at Tehran University.

Rafsanjani, president from 1989 to 1997, died of a heart attack on Sunday at the age of 82.

Three days of official mourning began yesterday.

The funeral is expected to be a show of force by reformists and moderates for whom Rafsanjani was a figurehead in recent years. However, Islamic hardliners are also expected to attend the funeral in large numbers to claim that he was one of them.

The former president will be buried next to Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

Rafsanjani was a key supporter of President Hassan Rouhani and had backed Iran’s landmark deal with world powers over its nuclear programme.