IRAN - Nov. 11 - Biggest Trial Of Dissidents Begins.
Of 31 people accused, six defendants have been held since mass arrests on March 11, 2001, while the others are on bail. A separate trial of about 20 other political activists associated with a loose alliance of opposition nationalists is expected to start soon. Lawyers say they challenged the authority of the court to hold the trial, saying it should be open and held before a jury. The trial is a serious embarrassment for Pres. Khatami whose pro-reform programme has been repeatedly blocked by his hardline opponents in control of the judiciary. Khatami has sharply criticised the arrests. His supporters say the trial was timed to begin while the president was in New York for the UN General Assembly, where his efforts to improve relations with western governments during the crisis in Afghanistan are under the spotlight. US-based Human Rights Watch called for the release of the accused and denounced the trial as falling short of international standards, saying: "These individuals are pawns in the power struggle between Iranian reformists and the conservative clerics who still control the judiciary".
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|Publication:||APS Diplomat Recorder|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Nov 17, 2001|
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