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Asia-pacific

Third mass trial begins over post-election unrest

Video by Los Angeles Times' Borzou Daraghi

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-16

Iran has begun a third mass trial of people accused of fomenting the unrest that erupted after the disputed June 12 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Charges include actions "towards overthrowing the Islamic establishment".

REUTERS - Iran began its third mass trial on Sunday of people accused of fomenting the unrest that erupted after the disputed June presidential election, Iranian media reported.

 

The June 12 vote has plunged the Islamic state into its biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution and has exposed deepening divisions within its ruling elite.

 

The semi-official Mehr news agency said no prominent moderate politicians were among those on trial on Sunday. Fars News Agency said more than 20 people were being tried.

 

Iran has previously held two mass trials for more than 100 moderates, including senior politicians, for various charges including acting against national security which is punishable by death under Iran's Islamic law.

 

French teaching assistant Clotilde Reiss and two Iranians working for the British and French embassies in Tehran were among those tried on Aug. 8.

 

The West and human rights groups have condemned the trials.

 

The indictment read in court on Sunday accused some of the detainees of "moving towards overthrowing the Islamic establishment, taking part in illegal protests and using hand-made bombs and grenades in protests," the official IRNA news agency reported.

 

"The detainees' confessions reveal that this plot had been planned years ago and the recent election was only an excuse to carry it out," it said, according to IRNA.

 

After the indictment was read, footage of street protests and riots were shown in court, media said.

 

Moderate defeated presidential candidates Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi say the election was rigged to secure the re-election of firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

 

The authorities deny the charge, saying it was the "healthiest" vote the country has had in the past three decades.

 

Analysts see the mass trials as an attempt by the authorities to uproot the moderate opposition and put an end to the protests that erupted after the June poll.

 

At least 26 protesters have been killed and scores arrested in post-election violence.

 

Rights groups say hundreds of people, including senior pro-reform politicians, journalists, activists and lawyers, have been detained in Iran since the election. Many of them are still in jail.

 

Iran accuses the West, particularly the United States and Britain, of fomenting the unrest. They deny the charge.

 

Date created : 2009-08-16

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