Death Penalty Urged for Reformist Leaders in Iran

Iran has advocated the death penalty to be served on former government ministers who, for allegedly orchestrating anti-democratic protests, were put on trial on Tuesday.

Saeed Hajjarian was the first man in the dock in Tuesday’s mass hearing, who is a former deputy intelligence minister. He had opposed the hardline regime of President Ahmadinejad and is charged with acting against Iran’s national security, a crime which, according to country’s law, is punishable by death.

“Hajjarian is charged with acting against national security and propaganda against the Islamic establishment by spreading suspicion of vote-rigging … and provoking illegal protests,” Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported from the trial.

“The prosecutor … called for maximum punishment for Hajjarian considering the importance of the case.”

Besides, senior politicians belonging to the moderate 1997-2005 presidency of Mohammad Khatami, who supported main opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi in the recent presidential vote, are at the same time facing the prospect of identical punishment in the Revolutionary Court.

In the hearing, a former deputy interior minister, a former deputy foreign minister, a once government spokesman, a former economy minister and an ex-mines and industry minister, all in prison clothes and slippers, were sitting in rows and seen silently listening to the charges read out to them by a prosecutor. Also, a newspaper editor was on trial.

In the meanwhile, country’s leading reformist party, Mosharekat, from which several of today’s accused come, deplored the proceedings, saying, the fourth such mass trial since post-election protests were violently put down – as a show trial forming part of an “ugly scenario” Prosecutors in court today called for Mosharekat to be shut down.

Blaming Iranian authorities led by prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi of unfairness, Mousavi has said that they are torturing some of the detainees into confessions and that there have been allegations of systematic rape of both male and female detainees.

It should be noted that in a failed attempt of assassination in 2000 allegedly by hardliners that took place soon after the reformist left power, Hajjarian was left crippled, and his family has expressed worries about his health in custody.

In a statement read out in court on Hajjarian’s behalf, the former minister confessed that he had “made major mistakes during the election by presenting incorrect analyses … and I apologise to the Iranian nation for those mistakes,” Fars News Agency reported.

IRNA said that Hajjarian also announced his resignation from Mosharekat.

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