Iran election protesters on trial

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Iran election protesters on trial

Updated on 01 August 2009

By Channel 4 News

Iran tries leading protesters for attempting to topple the clerical establishment after the post-presidential election riots which saw thousands take to the streets.

The trials began on Saturday of prominent moderates arrested shortly after Iran's disputed June presidential election, Iranian media reported.

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

It has been reported that hundreds of people, including senior pro-reform politicians, journalists and lawyers, have been detained since the election.

Leading moderates believe 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.

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 that 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.

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