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Middle East
Iran puts protesters on trial
Activists face charges of rioting in wake of disputed presidential vote.
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2009 06:02 GMT

About 20 protesters were killed during the
post-election violence in Iran [AFP]

About 100 Iranian protesters accused of rioting during recent post-election violence have gone on trial in the capital, Tehran.

The suspects, including several prominent political figures, appeared before the revolutionary court on Saturday to face allegations that they attacked security forces and destroyed property, among other charges. 

They were among hundreds of protesters, activists and journalists detained in a government crackdown following mass protests over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election as president in a disputed June 12 vote, that the opposition said was rigged.

"We hear that about 100 people were present in the court," Al Jazeera's Alireza Ronaghi, reporting from Tehran, said.

"It hasn't been an open court, either to the public or to the media."

Former officials

The Fars news agency reported that a number of those appearing on Saturday were reformists who served in the government of Mohammed Khatami, a former president.

They included Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a former vice-president, Behzad Nabavi, a former industry minister and deputy speaker of parliament, and Abdollah Ramazanzadeh, a former government spokesman.

According to Fars, Abtahi said in his testimony that there had been no irregularities in the June 12 vote.

"I say to all my friends and all friends who hear us, that the issue of fraud in Iran was a lie and was brought up to create riots so Iran becomes like Afghanistan and Iraq and suffers damage and hardship," he was quoted as saying.

"If this happened, there would no name and trace of the revolution left."

Protesters detained

Sustained domestic and international criticism of the crackdown prompted the authorities to free hundreds of detainees, but about 250 protesters are still being held.

Charge sheet

The defendants appearing in court in Tehran face the following charges:

Attacking military centres with firearms and bombs
Attacking government centres and setting them on fire
Destroying public property
Creating terror amongst the public
Contact with militant and hostile groups
Violence against police and security agents
Reporting for foreign and hostile media
Violence against people Distributing materials against the holy regime
Destroying people's properties

Tehran insists that those accused of serious crimes would be brought to book.

The official IRNA news agency quoted prosecutors as saying that defendants include people whose photographs were taken while "committing the crimes".

"Some of their accomplices are on the run, but they will be surely identified by our dear people and handed over to the law," it said.

Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the two defeated pro-reform presidential candidates, have been pressing for the release of all detained protesters.

The disputed re-election has plunged the Islamic Republic into its worst political crisis in its 30-year existence.

About 20 protesters were killed in the protests that erupted across the country.

Although the authorities have largely succeeded in preventing further large-scale protests, the political upheaval is continuing with the opposition refusing to accept the legitimacy of Ahmadinejad's re-election.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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