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Verdict expected in trial of French academic Clotilde Reiss

An Iranian court is expected to hand down a verdict Saturday in the case of French academic Clotilde Reiss. Reiss was arrested and charged with supporting opposition protests in June. Paris has made it clear that it expects an acquittal.

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AFP - An Iranian court was expected to give its verdict Saturday in the case of French academic Clotilde Reiss, arrested during anti-government protests in June, after Paris said it expects an acquittal.

The 24-year-old appeared in court for the third hearing in her long-running case which has tested relations with France.

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on Tuesday that the court was poised to deliver its judgement.

"Her trial session is due on Saturday and the court will make a final decision," he told the official IRNA news agency.

On Monday, Reiss's lawyer Mahdavi Sabet told AFP he hoped it would be his client's last appearance in the dock.

"The third court session has been set for January 16 in Branch 15 of the revolutionary court," Mohammad Ali Mahdavi Sabet said.

"It is supposed to be the last session, last hearing and last defence. We will plead not guilty and I hope it will be over and the court will give its verdict," he said.

Mahdavi Sabet said Reiss is charged with acting against Iran's national security and refused to speculate on whether the court would acquit.

"You never know," he said, adding that "she is in good spirits and hopes her problem is resolved and she can leave Iran."

Reiss was arrested on July 1 shortly before she was due to fly home after a six-month study and teaching visit to the Iranian city of Isfahan.

She was accused of supporting opposition protests that erupted after the controversial re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June.

She was one of scores of people paraded before cameras at a televised trial, before being remanded in custody in Tehran's notorious Evin jail.

She was granted bail in August and has been staying at the French embassy awaiting the outcome of her case.

Iran's opposition, which charges the election was massively rigged to keep hardline Ahmadinejad in power, has dismissed the court proceedings as "show trials."

France has furiously protested Reiss's innocence on all charges and accused Tehran of trying to blackmail Paris into releasing an Iranian agent jailed in France for the 1991 murder of an exiled former prime minister.

Ahmadinejad suggested in December that Iran might pardon Reiss if Ali Valiki Rad, who is serving a life sentence, is freed. But his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy has rejected the idea.

Iran has arrested thousands of protesters and put about 140 people on trial on charges of inciting or participating in the protests.

Iranian leaders have repeatedly accused Western powers and most notably the United States and Britain of seeking to overthrow the Islamic regime by fomenting mass protests in the aftermath of the election.

Several prominent reformist politicians and journalists, backing the opposition, have been sentenced to years in prison over their alleged roles in the unrest.

 

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