July 1998, Week 2

FarsiNet FarsiNews

Tehran Mayor Maintains Innocence July 14
Iran tries to quell Tehran quake scare July 10
Judge: Tehran mayor's work to have impact on verdict July 9

 

Tehran Mayor Maintains Innocence
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- In the closing session of his corruption trial, the mayor of Tehran on Saturday proclaimed his innocence and asked the court to consider all that he had done for the Iranian capital.

``As mayor of Tehran, I earned 10 trillion rials ($3.3 billion) for the Islamic Republic and spent 10 trillion rials for it,'' Gholamhossein Karbaschi said.

``With such great sums, some mistakes have to be accepted,'' he said. ``But I never stole anything.''

Karbaschi has been accused of embezzling millions of dollars in public funds and using some of the money to finance last year's election campaign by President Mohammad Khatami.

The trial, which has gripped Iran since it opened a month ago, is widely seen as an attempt by hard-liners in the ru ling hierarchy to topple key officials allied with the moderate Khatami.

Karbaschi ran Khatami's election campaign last year.

Karbaschi reminded the court of his work in improving Tehran, where he has reduced pollution and built parks, roads, sports and cultural centers.

Judge Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejaei said Karbaschi's services would be taken into account in the verdict, which is exp ected in about 10 days.

But ``if a manager breaks the law, his services do not preclude him from prosecution,'' said the judge -- who is als o the prosecutor.

Iran tries to quell Tehran quake scare
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Authorities in quake-prone Iran on Wednesday tried to calm the public amid rumours that a seer had predicted an imminent earthquake in Tehran.

In a statement read on state television and radio, Tehran University's geophysics institute assured residents of the capital that exact quake predictions had no scientific basis.

"No scientific centre in the world has even once been able to predict the exact time and place of an earthquake," the statement said.

Rumours that the Slovak seer has predicted a massive earthquake for Friday or Sunday has prompted many of Tehran's 10 million inhabitants to plan trips to the countryside.

State media have denounced the scare as a hoax and quoted Iran's embassy in Slovakia as saying the 74-year-old seer "has not once predicted anything correctly."

About 100,000 people have been killed by earthquakes in Iran since 1910. The worst one, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, killed 35,000 people in the Caspian coast province of Gilan and neighbouring Zanjan, northwest of Tehran, in 1990.

That quake hit during the World Cup finals, causing some people to draw parallels as the soccer tournament again reaches its climax in France this week.

This is not the first time Tehran has been rattled by earthquake rumours. In 1993, an Assyrian bishop's vision of Tehran being destroyed by a massive earthquake triggered a mini-exodus from the capital.

In 1991, a Chinese astrologer's earthquake prediction created mass hysteria, with hundreds of thousands of Tehranis leaving the city and many sleeping in public parks.

Judge: Tehran mayor's work to have impact on verdict
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- A judge hearing the corruption trial of Tehran's reformist mayor said today that his verdict will take into account Gholamhossein Karbaschi's efforts to improve the capital.

The judge, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejaei, who also acts as the prosecutor in keeping with Iranian laws, made the assurance after wrapping up the government's case at the end of a four-hour session.

The mayor, who has pleaded innocent to the charges of corruption and embezzlement, was to begin his defense Saturday.

Karbaschi's trial is widely seen as an attempt by hard-liners in the ruling clergy to topple key officials allied with moderate Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

Defense lawyer Masoud Haeri accused the court of failing to recognize Karbaschi's accomplishments during the past eight years, including the construction of 500 parks and numerous highways.

Judge Mohseni interrupted to warn Haeri that he was close to committing contempt of court.

"If you don't respect the court's reputation, I will order that you be expelled. What you are saying is an insult to the court," Mohseni said.

Later, however, he told reporters that Karbaschi's deeds will be considered: "His services and achievements will have an impact on the verdict."

In past sessions, Karbaschi had sparred with the judge and accused authorities of torturing senior municipality officials in a bid to make them testify against him. Today, the mayor appeared relaxed and composed, speaking only occasionally.

Mohseni said the verdict will be issued in the next two weeks. If convicted, Karbaschi faces up to 10 years in jail, a fine and a ban from holding public office.

 

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