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Asia-pacific

Prominent reformist leaders among 'rioters' on trial

Video by Yuka ROYER

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-02

Top reformists, including former industries Minister Behzad Nabavi (pictured), are among those being charged with trying to topple Iran's government in protests after the disputed June 12 presidential election.

Reuters - The trials began on Saturday of prominent moderates arrested shortly after Iran’s disputed June presidential election and charged with trying to topple the clerical establishment, Iranian media reported.

This is the first time since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution that dozens of senior officials, including former vice-presidents, ministers and lawmakers, have been put on trial in the Islamic state.

The official IRNA news agency quoted the indictment as saying the charges against the defendants also included acting against national security by planning unrest, participating in the “Velvet Revolution”, attacking military and state buildings and conspiring against the ruling system.

“The trial of some of those accused of being involved in post-election unrest started this morning,” IRNA said.

Velvet Revolution was used to describe the non-violent 1989 revolution in Czechoslovakia which overturned communist rule.

Under Iran’s Islamic law, acting against national security, a common charge against dissenting voices in Iran, could be punishable by the death penalty.

The June 12 vote plunged Iran into its biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution and exposed deep divisions in its ruling elite.

Rights groups say hundreds of people, including senior pro-reform politicians, journalists and lawyers, have been detained since the election.




Disputed vote


Leading moderates say the vote was rigged in favour of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The authorities deny the charge and Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has endorsed Ahmadinejad’s re-election.

Hardline semi-official Fars news agency said at least four prominent reformers now said that the vote was not rigged.

“Former vice-presidents Mohammad Ali Abtahi and Mohsen Safai-Farahani, former Industries Minister Behzad Nabavi, (Iranian-Canadian journalist) Maziar Bahari and former deputy interior minister Mostafa Tajzadeh have confessed their claims about the vote violation were baseless,” Fars reported.

Iran’s top judge, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, ordered the judiciary on Monday to review the cases of detained protesters in a week.

Lawmaker Kazem Jalali said on Tuesday 140 detained protesters with “minor charges” had been released from Tehran’s Evin prison, where many political activists are held. He said 250 remained in jail.

Date created : 2009-08-01

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