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October 1998, Week 2

FarsiNet FarsiNews

Iran releases director of banned moderate paper October 15
Iran top body objects to single-sex hospitals law October 14
Iran Denies Death Sentence Ruling October 12
Customs Seizes 650 Persian Rugs October 11

 

Iran releases director of banned moderate paper
TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) -- Iranian authorities released a prominent newspaper director who was arrested one month ago after his moderate daily was banned, Iran's official news agency IRNA reported on Wednesday.

It said Hamid Reza Jalaeipour, arrested on unspecified security charges, was freed on bail late on Tuesday by order of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after an appeal by Jalaeipour's mother.

IRNA quoted an Islamic revolutionary court as saying that "investigation into Jalaeipour's charges would continue."

The arrest of the liberal Islamist Jalaeipour and three of his colleagues at the banned daily Tous has drawn protests from Iranian moderates and international human rights groups.

The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch last week called on Iran to release Jalaeipour and the other three senior staff members of Tous, saying it feared the four were being ill-treated to force them into signing false confessions.

Jalaeipour's case drew particular attention in Iran because of his impeccable revolutionary credentials as a veteran Islamic activist who lost three brothers in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

On September 28, Iran officially banned Tous for insulting the late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

This formalised the closure of the outspoken daily, which was shut in mid-September by the revolutionary court which also ordered the arrest of the four staff on unspecified charges of acting against Iran's security.

Tous, which often criticised Iran's powerful conservatives, had gained wide circulation by testing the limits of wider press freedoms introduced by reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

The closure of Tous, and the suspension of some moderate magazines, came shortly after Khamenei called for action against newspapers which he accused of abusing press freedom.

Iran top body objects to single-sex hospitals law
TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) -- A top Iranian state body objected to a bill passed by parliament which aims to segregate hospitals for men and women in accordance with strict Islamic rules, state television reported on Tuesday.

It said the Guardian Council, which vets laws passed by parliament, objected to the bill banning mixed hospitals on a technicality. The conservative body said it created state expenses without providing sources of income to cover them.

The controversial bill, passed by the parliament's majority conservatives over criticism by moderates, will now be sent back to the assembly. Deputies could still amend the draft law to ensure its approval by the Guardian Council.

The law would apply to state and private hospitals and other health institutions, including pharmacies. Violators would face fines and risk having their license revoked.

The bill's passage by parliament came amid a backlash by powerful conservatives against the reformist government of moderate President Mohammad Khatami.

Iran enforces strict Islamic rules limiting contacts between unmarried or unrelated men and women. But women work and study along men at many institutions.

Female doctors are common in Iran, but some health experts told newspapers that women's health care would suffer because there were not enough women specialists across the country to implement the strict law. They also said its implementation would be extremely costly.

All laws have to be approved by the Guardian Council, a body of lawyers and Shi'ite Moslem clerics, before they take effect.

Iran Denies Death Sentence Ruling
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran denied on Sunday that an appeals court upheld a death s entence for a German businessman convicted of having a sexual relationship with a Muslim woman.

No new ruling has been issued for the 56-year-old Helmut Hofer, the official Isla mic Republic News Agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Mahmoud Mohammadi as s aying.

Hofer's lawyer and several newspapers reported Saturday that the death sentence a gainst Hofer was upheld by the appeals court. The lawyer showed a copy of the ver dict to The Associated Press.

The denial seems to be an attempt by the Iranian government to mollify Germany, w hich was angered by the verdict.

It could reflect, too, infighting within the fractured Iranian government, where hard-line factions and moderates centered around President Mohammad Khatami are v ying for influence. Hard-liners, in particular, control the powerful judiciary. < P> The Iranian ambassador in Bonn was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to hear a pro test over the verdict. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said the court ruling ``inevitably throws a new shadow on both sides' wish to improve relations.''

Iran criticized Germany on Sunday for turning Hofer's case into a political issue that could threaten relations.

``As far as Iran is concerned, Hofer's case is trivial and is a judicial issue wh ere political considerations do not play a role,'' a commentary on state-run Tehr an radio said.

There were conflicting accounts Sunday about the appeal.

Mohammadi said that Hofer's case has been presented to the Supreme Court. Another court routinely examined the case for possible errors before forwarding it, he s aid.

But the head of the court where the trial took place said the death sentence had been upheld. The verdict ``has not been changed,'' Nasser Seraj was quoted as say ing by the Jomhuri Eslami newspaper.

A spokesman for the judiciary, Fotovat Nasiri-Savadkuhi, told the Iranian news ag ency that ``the decision of the Supreme Court to endorse or reject the death sent ence would be the last and final judicial decision of this case.''

Hofer's lawyer, Malekhoushang Qahhari, was out of town Sunday and not available f or comment.

Hofer was sentenced to death in January soon after his arrest for having sex with 26-year-old Vahideh Qassemi, a medical student.

Iranian law punishes sex between unmarried Muslims with flogging. If the man is a non-Muslim, he faces the death penalty.

The appeals court had earlier assured German officials that Hofer would be freed because the court was satisfied that he was a Muslim and would marry the Iranian woman.

Iran has been keen to improve its relations with the European Union, especially i ts top Western trade partner, Germany. Bonn had warned Tehran that if Hofer were executed, relations would sour.

Ties between the two had only recently started to recover from strains caused by a German court's ruling last year implicating senior Iranian officials in the 199 2 assassination of Iranian-Kurdish dissidents at a Berlin restaurant.

Customs Seizes 650 Persian Rugs
By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Customs agents swooped down on three suburban Parvizian furniture stores this week and seized more than 650 Persian rugs with an estimated retail value of more than $10 million, federal officials said yesterday.

The Parvizian stores in Chevy Chase, Alexandria and Tysons Corner were closed while agents spent up to 10 hours Thursday night searching for rugs illegally imported from Iran, said Pat Jones, a spokesman for the U.S. Customs Service.

In November 1987, President Ronald Reagan imposed a trade embargo on all Iranian imports because of Iranian hostility toward U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf.

No one was arrested or charged after the raids, and the stores reopened yesterday . Douglas A. Fellman, an attorney for the Parvizian stores, said, "We have every reason to believe there's been no inappropriate conduct by our client," but he declined to elaborate.

Jones said Customs agents began investigating Parvizian after intercepting a rug shipment at Dulles International Airport in January. Of 102 rugs seized, all of which were listed as Pakistani-made on the shipping manifest, about 80 percent were from Iran, Jones said.

"There's a fair amount of smuggling of Iranian rugs," Jones said, "mainly across the Canadian border." He said he did not know how often seizures are made.

Each Parvizian rug is marked with a tag listing the type and price of the rug, as well as its country of origin.

Jones said all the seized rugs were marked as coming from Iran. He noted that Iranian rugs imported to the United States before November 1987 are legal.

Customs agents obtained search warrants Thursday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria for the three Parvizian stores, Jones said. He did not know when or if a criminal case would be presented to the U.S. attorney for possible charges.

Abdi Parvizian, one of the store's owners, once claimed to be the largest importer of Oriental rugs in the country. He declined to comment yesterday.

 

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