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September 99, Week 3
|Trial of Head of Closed Iranian Daily Opens||September 21|
|Summer Time to End on Tuesday in Iran||September 19|
|Khatami Seeks Pardon for Iranians Sentenced to Die||September 19|
|Eleven-year airport wait ends||September 18|
|Several People Arrested in Connection with Iran Bombing||September 17|
|EU Assembly Urges Iran to Suspend Death Sentences||September 16|
|Iran Court Hands out Jail Terms to Protesters||September 15|
Trial of Head of Closed Iranian Daily Opens
TEHRAN - XINHUA - A court in Tehran opened on Monday an investigation into charges leveled against Latif Safari, managing director of liberal Neshat daily shut down two weeks ago. |
The hearing at one branch of the public courts was attended by members of the press jury. A representative of the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), reading the complaint lodged by the LEF commander, said the charges were filed based on "hostile articles published by the daily on July 18 and July 25 against the LEF command and personnel."
According to a statement by the public relations department of the Tehran judiciary, the public court is to probe into 73 cases of charges against Safari. But it did not give details. Neshat had published a open letter from a opposition leader that advised supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to distance himself from hardliners.
The Persian-language newspaper also carried article early this month by a reader urging for the abolition of capital punishment, calling it "the most prominent type of governmental violence." Days after the publishing of the article, Khamenei said that anyone who questioned the Islamic rationale for the death penalty deserved to be executed. He also accused some newspaper of abusing their freedom.
Neshat was ordered to stop publishing on September 5. The ban will hold until the trial of the managing director ends. Neshat's closure is the latest in a series of newspaper bannings related to a power struggle between conservatives who dominate the judiciary and the parliament and reformists represented by President Mohammad Khatami. Hardliners have closed down several pro-Khatami newspapers like Neshat this year.
Khatami Seeks Pardon for Iranians Sentenced to Die
TEHRAN, (Reuters) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami hoped that supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would pardon four people sentenced to death over pro-democracy unrest, an official was quoted as saying on Sunday. |
"Mr Khatami said recently that he hoped (those sentenced to death) would benefit from the leader's pardon," newspapers quoted his office secretary Mohammad Ali Abtahi as saying. Only Khamenei has the power to overturn judicial verdicts in Iran.
Abtahi said Khatami had not been informed of the death sentences until they were made public. "Mr Khatami has said he was completely uninformed about the sentences," Abtahi said. The verdicts were revealed in a newspaper interview last week in which the head of Tehran's hardline Revolutionary Courts said the four had been sentenced to be hanged for their role in the riots in July.
The unrest began after police and hardline vigilantes attacked a peaceful student demonstration at Tehran University against the banning of a reformist newspaper, killing at least one person and injuring scores. The attack touched off widening protests and street riots, the worst unrest since the the 1979 Islamic revolution. The verdicts, and the fact that the court met in secret, outraged Iranian reformers.
Summer Time to End on Tuesday in Iran
TEHRAN -XINHUA - Iran's summer time is to end on Tuesday night and the country will again be 3:30 hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). |
The president's office issued a statement saying official clock of the country will be put back by one hour Tuesday night to end summer time. Energy-saving summer time was adopted in Iran in 1991 upon a cabinet decision, during which Tehran time is 4:30 hours ahead of the GMT.
Eleven-year airport wait ends
An Iranian man who has spent the past 11 years waiting at a French airport has finally received the papers which will let him past the immigration desk. |
Mehran Karimi Nasseri - who up to now has had no travel documents - is planning to travel to Belgium, the country which granted him refugee status in July this year. This week the French authorities issued the papers authorising his entry into Europe. "I don't really know what I'll end up doing, but what is certain is that I'm now free now to come and go as I please," said Mr Nasseri, 54. "It's possible I'll come back to France."
Mr Nasseri - known to the airport staff as Sir Alfred in reference to his supposed British ancestry - settled at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris, following a fruitless quest to find his mother. He first left Iran for the United Kingdom in 1974, believing his mother to be British or possibly Danish.
But returning to Iran in 1976, he was stripped of his citizenship for having taken part in demonstrations calling for the overthrow of the Shah who ruled Iran at the time. He spent time in Germany, the Netherlands and finally Belgium, which issued him with documents attesting that he was a stateless person.
Mr Nasseri says these documents were stolen in Paris in 1988. He attempted to re-enter Britain, but was turned back. Apart from a spell in a French prison for having no fixed address and no papers, he has been living on a bench at the airport ever since.
The authorities tolerated his presence, and airport staff bought him food and allowed him to use airport washing facilities. Mr Nasseri occupied his time taking correspondence courses delivered to him care of the airport post office.
Several People Arrested in Connection with Iran Bombing
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Several people have been detained in connection with a bombing that killed two people in northeastern Iran, the Tehran Times reported today.
Ten other people were injured in Thursday's bombing at the shrine of Shiite Muslim saint Imam Reza in the holy city of Mashhad. |
The Tehran Times, monitored in Dubai, did not say how many people were detained or when the arrests were made.
EU Assembly Urges Iran to Suspend Death Sentences
STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - The European Parliament called on Iran on Thursday to suspend death sentences against four alleged leaders of student pro-democracy protests in July.
In a resolution adopted by an overwhelming majority, the assembly urged Tehran to free all prisoners held for the student demonstrations and on spying charges, to "enable them freely to prepare their defence with the lawyers of their choice." |
European Commission vice-president Neil Kinnock told the parliament the European Union's Finnish presidency was preparing a protest urging the death sentences not be carried out. The protest would be delivered in the coming days to the Iranian Foreign Ministry. EU officials suggested on Wednesday that Iran's response will determine whether several high-level visits go ahead, including a planned trip by Austrian President Thomas Klestil, who would be the first EU head of state to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The head of Tehran's Revolutionary Courts, Gholamhossein Rahbarpour, disclosed in a weekend newspaper interview that four accused ringleaders of the July student protests had been tried and sentenced to die.
The Supreme Court had confirmed two of the execution orders and two more were under judicial review, he said. Rahbarpour raised the prospect of more death sentences among the more than 1,000 who were arrested during the unrest and who still await hearings. The parliament also expressed its indignation at the treatment of 13 Iranian Jews arrested earlier this year on suspicion of spying for Israel. They, too, face possible death sentences if convicted. "The European Parliament calls for the rights of the defence to be respected and for international observers to have immediate access to the case files on the accused and to be allowed freely to follow the whole trial," the resolution said.
Kinnock told the assembly that recent developments in Iran reflected the internal power struggle between moderate reformers and conservatives ahead of elections in February. In the meantime, the policy of "the cautious opening of relations with Iran should continue, to encourage (President) Khatami's government and supporters of reform, who are continuing their efforts in very difficult circumstances," Kinnock said.
Iran Court Hands out Jail Terms to Protesters
TEHRAN(Reuters) - An Iranian Revolutionary Court sentenced 21 people to jail terms of up to nine years for their role in pro-democracy unrest in the northwestern city of Tabriz, a judicial official was quoted as saying on Thursday. |
The head of the Revolutionary Court for East Azerbaijan Province, Najaf Aqazadeh, told the daily Khordad that 260 cases had been reviewed in connection with protests that broke out in the regional capital Tabriz on July 10 in sympathy with similar demonstrations in the Iranian capital. So far, Aqazadeh said, 21 "main culprits" had received sentences ranging from three months to nine years in prison. The judge did not name those convicted, and did not specify the exact charges.
On Sunday the head of the Revolutionary Court system -- a tribunal originally created to purge members of the pre-revolutionary elite -- announced that four people had been sentenced to die for their role in the Tehran protests, which ran for six days and culminated in running street violence.
That announcement, the first indication that any trials had been held in connection with the unrest, outraged Iranian reformers and set alarm bells ringing in Western capitals. Domestic critics say those condemned to death did not have the benefit of a proper defence. They condemned the use of secret trials on such a sensitive issue, accusing hardline elements in the judiciary of playing politics with the case. "Four people are about to be executed in this country and we don't know the reason why," Khordad quoted Kourosh Fouladi, MP from Khorramabad, as saying. "Doesn't the law reign supreme here?"
International concern over the death sentences is also mounting, casting a shadow over Iran's warming relations with the European Union. On Wednesday, EU diplomats said the bloc would make an official approach to the Iranian Foreign Ministry urging Iran not to carry out the death sentences. "The EU is worried about this development and we will try to influence decision-makers in Iran," one diplomat told Reuters in London.
In Strasbourg, officials at the European Parliament said they were drafting a resolution calling on Iran not to execute the protesters. REPORTS OF SHOOTING AT STUDENT PROTESTERS Press reports at the time, later corroborated by members of parliament, said the troubles in Tabriz began when hardline vigilantes attacked a peaceful student demonstration called in support of the Tehran protesters.
Newspapers said police closed in once the students began to fight back, with several shots fired directly into the crowd. At least 15 demonstrators were taken to hospital. Accounts of the Tabriz incident, however, remain sketchy and MPs have now agreed to create a special commission to investigate the bloodshed. Judge Aqazadeh said the Revolutionary Court had shown leniency after its investigations revealed that those convicted had taken part in the unrest only after being duped by unnamed others.
"Because this group was fooled, the revolutionary court acted with the utmost leniency towards them, so that they will be warned to the reality that were duped," Aqazadeh said. He said 12 of the 21 sentenced were students, while the others included "bandits" and supporters of outlawed opposition groups.
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