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IRAN - Jan. 25 - Judiciary Hit.

Pro-reform newspapers publish a letter by more than 150 MPs, representing more than half the parliament, condemning judges and Tehran's public prosecutor who "adopted as their sole duty the prosecution of political and social activists and journalists of a certain faction". The letter, read out in the assembly on Jan. 24, warns Ayatullah Hashemi Shahrubi, head of the judiciary, that those under him would be in breach of the law if they refused to co-operate with parliament's exercise of its rights of supervision and investigation. (The judiciary remains one of the main bastions of power for the rightwing traditionalists, following their defeat in parliamentary elections in February 2000 and loss of the presidency to Mohammed Khatami, a moderate, in 1997. Many outspoken opponents of the traditionalists have received tough jail sentences recently including one dissident theologian sentenced to death. Analysts see the letter as a message of support for Khatami ahead of the June 8 presidential elections, but also as an implicit rejoinder to Ayatollah Ali Khamen'i, the supreme leader who has endorsed the crackdown on the media. In a well-publicised speech in October 2000 he condemned those who supported convicted criminals. Despite that warning, the MPs raised the case of Akbar Ganji, a journalist sentenced to 10 years in prison and five in exile. He was among seven intellectuals convicted this month for taking part in a Berlin conference on Iran's reforms that the judge ruled was a threat to the Islamic republic. The letter asked if Ganji had really been jailed for writing about alleged death squads inside the Intelligence Ministry. During his trial Ganji revealed for the first time the names of senior theologians he alleged were behind a series of killings. The MPs also asked about Ali Afshari, a student leader, and Ezatollah Sahabi, a veteran nationalist, who have vanished inside Iran's prison complex).
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jan 27, 2001
Previous Article:IRAN - Jan. 23 - Ganji To Fight.
Next Article:IRAQ - Jan. 24 - Washington Warns Saddam.

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