tagged w/ Iran Election Iran Protests
TEHRAN, Iran – Around 20 protesters will be put on trial starting Saturday in the first prosecutions from Iran's crackdown on the opposition following disputed presidential elections last month, the state news agency reported.
The announcement comes as anger is growing over allegations of abuse against detainees from the crackdown. Reports have emerged in recent days of several young protesters who died in prison, and the opposition says authorities are torturing detainees to force confessions that can be used in trials.
Hundreds were arrested in the crackdown against protests by hundreds of thousands of Iranians, claiming fraud in the June 12 presidential vote. Among those detained were young protesters, but also senior pro-reform politicians and prominent rights activists.
The state news agency IRNA said Wednesday that indictments had been issued against "around 20" detainees involved in "planning and carrying out sabotage" and that trials will begin on Saturday. The report said this was the "first phase" of trials, and that in later phases the defendants would be "those who ordered the post election unrest," an apparent reference to opposition politicians.
The first group of defendants face charges including connections to terrorist groups, planting bombs, carrying weapons and grenades, intentional attack on the police and Basij, attacking security and university facilities, "sending images to the media of the enemy" ... and damaging public property, IRNA said.
in an update to yesterday's article:
CAIRO – Iran's leadership faced sharp criticism Wednesday from top clerics and even conservative supporters over prison abuses, including detainee deaths and the brutal beatings of protesters arrested in the post-election crackdown
In a move likely to anger the opposition, officials announced the first trials will begin Saturday, with the prosecution of around 20 protesters. They include some accused of sending images of the unrest to the media.
The bodies of several young protesters have been turned over to their families in recent weeks, all showing signs of beatings or other abuse while in custody, according to pro-opposition Web sites, citing accounts from relatives. Among them was the son of a prominent conservative, which has brought a wave of criticism from the camp that generally backs the government.
Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and his allies were planning a ceremony Thursday in the sprawling Behesht-e Zahra cemetery outside Tehran to honor those who died in the fierce suppression of the protests. Supporters also plan rallies in various parts of the capital — raising the likelihood of new clashes with security forces.
One of them, outspoken dissident Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, derided an order by the supreme leader this week to close Kahrizak prison, where at least one detainee was killed. "Can the government deceive people by closing a detention center and blaming all the faults on a building?" he said in a statement Wednesday.
"What benefit does the government gain from the crisis, except angering the majority of the people and weakening the Islamic republic?" he asked, demanding the prosecution of those responsible for abuses.
Another senior cleric, Ayatollah Asadollah Bayat Zanjani, said: "We are witnessing sorrowful acts committed in the name of the regime and under the banner of God that bring pain to the heart of all supporters of the Islamic republic."
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