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Middle East
Iran hangs opposition group members
Alleged supporters of Sunni-Muslim group that has claimed suicide bombings executed, while film director is sentenced.
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2010 22:17 GMT
An Iranian court has sentenced filmmaker Jafar Panahi to six years in prison [EPA]

Iran has hanged 11 people with alleged connections to a Sunni Muslim opposition group that killed 39 people in a mosque bombing.

The Justice Ministry said on Monday that those executed were all supporters of Jundollah, which claimed a double suicide bombing of Shia worshippers in the southeast on December 15.

"The people of Sistan-Baluchestan province, in their continuing campaign against the elements of cruelty and insecurity, hanged 11 people at Zahedan prison," the ministry said in a statement on the semi-official Fars news agency.

Iran has said that Jundollah members, who say they are fighting for the rights of the ethnic-minority Baluch people, find shelter across Iran's southeastern border with Pakistan.

Iran asserts that the group is linked to al-Qaeda.

'Serious measures'

According to state television, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, held a telephone conversation with his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari, urging Pakistan to arrest "identified terrorists" and hand them over to Iran.

Iran hoped it had neutralised Jundollah when it executed its leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, last June. But the mosque bombing in the town of Chabahar, which wounded more than 100 people, was the group's latest riposte.

The families of the bombing victims sent a letter to Zardari calling for "serious measures" against Jundollah and other "terrorist" groups, echoing a call from some Iranian officials.

"These anti-revolutionary groups which have been given shelter in neighbouring countries like Pakistan and are being supported there should be pursued and suppressed on Pakistani soil," Qolamali Rashid, a senior military official, said.

"The land forces of the Revolutionary Guard have the ability to do this," he said, referring to Iran's elite military force.

A member of Iran's parliamentary national security and foreign policy committee said on Sunday that "Pakistan should be served notice" to destroy what he called terrorist training camps.

"If the Pakistan government refused to take measures to destroy the terrorist centres in that country, then the Islamic Republic would have the right to take steps and make the atmosphere unsafe for the terrorists in defence of its own nationals," Kazem Jalali told the semi-official Mehr news agency.

Film director sentenced

Meanwhile, an Iranian court has sentenced Jaraf Panahi, an internaitonally renowned film director, to six years in prison on Saturday, according to Farideh Gheyrat, his lawyer.

The court has also ruled that Panahi cannot make films, nor travel abroad for 20 years.

Gheyrat said that he was convicted of gathering, colluding and propaganda against the Iranian government.

"Mr Panahi has been sentenced to six years in jail for acting and propaganda against the system," Gheyrat was quoted as saying by the Isna news agency.

"He has also been banned from making films, writing any kind of scripts, travelling abroad and talking to local and foreign media for 20 years."

Gheyrat called it a "heavy verdict" and said that she had 20 days to make an appeal.

Panahi, 49, supports Mirhossein Mousavi, Iran's opposition leader, in last year's disputed presidential election.

The filmmaker was arrested in Iran in early March and detained for 88 days, when he went on hunger strike due to his treatment.

Source:
Agencies
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