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Middle east

Top Khatami aides in the dock over election unrest


Latest update : 2009-08-25

Aides to former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami have appeared in Tehran's revolutionary court accused of stoking post-election unrest and plotting a "soft coup".

AFP - Several aides to former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami were put on trial on Tuesday on charges of masterminding the post-election unrest and plotting a "soft coup" in the Islamic republic.
Among the some 20 people in the dock in the revolutionary court in Tehran were a former minister and a number of other top political figures as well as reformist journalists and academics, local media reported.
The prosecution charged that some political groups "with the cooperation of Western media and colonial embassies disrupted the situation and misused the supporters of defeated candidates to launch a soft coup d'etat," the state broadcaster said.
Iran has already staged mass trials of around 140 people on offences linked to the massive demonstrations and street violence that followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hotly-disputed victory in the June election.
The court proceedings, which are open only to Iranian news agencies and which opposition leaders denounced as "show trials," have angered the international community and heightened political tensions as Iran battles its worst crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The prosecution called for the dissolution of reformist movements such as the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) and the Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organisation after accusing them of "lying" and spreading "rumours of fraud in the election."
Iranian news agencies said those in the dock included Khatami aides such as former deputy interior minister Mostafa Tajzadeh, former deputy foreign minister Mohsen Aminzadeh, ex-deputy economy minister Mohsen Safaie-Farahani and reformist activists Mohsen Mirdamadi and Abdollah Ramezanzadeh.
Behzad Nabavi, a top reformist thinker and former minister in the post-revolution government of Ahmadinejad's main election rival Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh were also on trial.
Another leading reformist Saeed Hajjarian, who has been under house arrest since his detention on June 16 was also in court, the ISNA news agency said.
In written testimony read out by another defendant, apparently for health reasons, Hajjarian apologised for "huge mistakes" he committed due to "wrong analysis."
The prosecution claims Hajjarian had connections with British intelligence and the Soros Foundation which planned to launch a "velvet revolution" in Iran.
"He acted against national security, cast doubt on the election result, propogated against the regime and insulted regime officials, including the supreme leader," the prosecution charged.
Khatami, who was president of Iran from 1997 to 2005, is a strong supporter of opposition groups who have rejected Ahmadinejad's re-election by a landslide of 63 percent in what they charge was a massively rigged poll.
At previous hearings in revolutionary courts, the defendants have included reformists, political activists, a young French woman lecturer and two employees of the French and British embassies.
Ahmadinejad's re-election triggered massive street protests in Tehran by supporters of Mousavi and other defeated candidates, and set off political turmoil that has shaken the very pillars of the Islamic regime.
Officials have said at least 30 people were killed in clashes with security forces, but the opposition puts the death toll at 69.
About 4,000 people were initially detained over the protests and hundreds are still behind bars, amid opposition allegations that some have been killed, raped and abused in custody.
The trials have intensified the political turmoil gripping Iran as Ahmadinejad awaits a vote of confidence in parliament for his 21-member cabinet.
Iranian media have reported that several ministerial nominees are expected to be rejected by the conservative-dominated parliament amid a deep rift between Ahmadinejad and his own hardline camp.
In a snub to Ahmadinejad, 270 of the nation's 290 MPs stayed away from a Ramadan feast hosted by the president on Sunday, the reformist Etemad daily reported.

Date created : 2009-08-25