Mass trial in Iran: Six year prison sentence for reformist politician Abtahi

2009/11/22

Published on German TV channel “ARD”/news broadcast “Tagesschau”, on November 22, 2009
Source (German): http://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/iranreformtod100.html

Abtahi (3rd from right) was the deputy of president Khatami from 1998 - 2005

The former Iranian vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi for his role in the protests following the disputed presidential election was sentenced to a six year imprisonment. His lawyer Saleh Nikbakht said that Abtahi is charged with having fuelled unrests to overthrow the system. However, according to reports of news agency IRNA he has been released on a bail equivalent to 470.000 Euro and is expecting an appeals hearing.

Human rights groups and opposition circles talked of a show trial against Abtahi. After his arrest, he was showed on TV admitting to the charge of inciting unrests. His family and political friends say that he had been under pressure during his confession in early August. He was possibly even tortured. Abtahi is said to have lost a lot of weight in detention.

The news agency Fars at that time reported that Abtahi called the oppositional politicians Moussavi, Khatami and Rafsanjani “close-knit allies”. Literally, it read: “I tell all my friends that the fraud issue was a lie and served as a pretext for the riots.”

More than 100 arrests and 5 death sentences
Abtahi is one of more than 100 moderate politicians who were arrested after the presidential election of June 12. He was known to be a commited reformist and critic of the conservatives. Abtahi had been Iran’s vice-president under the liberal president Mohammad Khatami.

Spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei despite massive fraud allegations had recognized the victory of incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over opposition candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi, whereupon the most widespread protests since the Iranian revolution of 1979 took place. The government responded by a mass trial against oppositional politicians who are charged with instigating an overthrow of the system by means of a “velvet revolution”. So far, five death sentences have been issued in those trials. Khamenei has stated that it was a crime to question the legitimacy of the June 12 elections.

Moussavi: The Green Movement will carry on
Meanwhile, Moussavi called on the government in Tehran to stop their policy of intimidation against different-minded people. On his website “Kalame” it says that the so-called green movement will carry on with its commitment and is ready to pay a high price. The officially defied presidential candidate launched this appeal on occasion of a meeting commemorating the assassination of Iranian opposition members 11 years ago.

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