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Trial of post-election 'rioters' begins


Latest update : 2009-08-01

The trial of accused rioters arrested in the aftermath of the disputed June 12 presidential election has begun in Tehran, said IRNA news agency. Around 100 people, including top reformist leaders, are among the accused, according to IRNA.

AFP - Iran on Saturday put on trial around 100 people, including top reformists and aides of opposition leaders, on charges of rioting after the disputed re-election in June of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.

The trial in a revolutionary court comes as Ahmadinejad, due to be sworn in on August 5 for a new four-year term, sought to ease political tensions by denying a rift with all-powerful supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Fars news agency said around 100 people went on trial in Tehran for their alleged role in anti-Ahmadinejad riots after he was declared winner of the June 12 vote.

Media said the accused are charged with having "participated in riots, acting against national security, disturbing public order, vandalising public and government property, having ties with counter-revolutionary groups and of planning to launch a velvet revolution."

Among those in the dock were Mohsen Aminzadeh and Mohsen Safai-Farahani, deputy ministers under the government of reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami, and Mohsen Mirdamadi, current head of the Islamic Iran Participation Front.

Also on trial were prominent reformists Behzad Nabavi of the Islamic Republic Mujahedeen Organisation, Mohammad Atrianfar of the Executives of Construction, and Mohammad Ali Abtahi, from the Assembly of Combatant Clerics.

All strongly supported opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who say Ahmadinejad's election victory was fraudulent and have demanded a rerun.

Fars reported Abtahi, a cleric, as saying in his testimony that he "agreed with what the prosecution said."

"But I want to say something, about the velvet revolution part... I think the capacity for such a thing to happen exists in the country, but I don't know if there was a real intention to do it," it quoted him as saying.

Fars reported the prosecution as saying some defendants had admitted that "there was no fraud in the election."

It also said the accused, if proven guilty, could face a maximum jail term of five years, unless they are charged with being a "mohareb" or enemy of God, which can mean the death penalty.

The post-election violence, mainly in Tehran, left around 30 people dead and hundreds wounded, Iranian officials said.

The official IRNA news agency quoted prosecutors as saying the defendants include people whose photographs were taken while "committing the crimes."

"Some of their accomplices are on the run but they will be surely identified by our dear people and handed over to the law," it said.

After the election up to 2,000 protesters, political activists, reformists and journalists were arrested as hundreds of thousands of people rallied to challenge the results.

Most detainees have been released but around 250 remain behind bars and their continued imprisonment has become a rallying cry for the anti-Ahmadinejad movement.

The Islamic republic is mired in the worst political crisis in its 30-year existence as the opposition led by former prime minister Mousavi refuses to acknowledge Ahmadinejad's victory.



Thousands of protesters clashed on Thursday with police in Tehran as they marked the 40th day since the June 20 death of Neda Agha-Soltan, a young woman whose killing during a protest has come to symbolise the anti-Ahmadinejad movement.

Iran has accused foreign governments of complicity in crimes and killings during the post-election unrest, and on Friday a fresh anti-West salvo was fired by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

He said Western and European countries interfered in the election "through their television networks by telling how to instigate riots, build explosives and other tension creating activities are accomplices in all the committed crimes, murders and are held responsible."

The crisis has further deepened after a series of controversial decisions by Ahmadinejad weakened his standing among his own hardline supporters.

Hardliners lashed out at Ahmadinejad after he appointed a controversial aide Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as his first deputy and was then tardy in firing him despite an order from Khamenei to do so.

The hardline camp was further irked when Ahmadinejad sacked intelligence minister Gholan Hossein Mohseni Ejeie following a reported "quarrel" over Rahim Mashaie.

Ahmadinejad denied on Friday there was any rift between him and Khamenei and compared his relationship with the supreme leader to "father and son."

Date created : 2009-08-01