Reformist politician Abtahi sentenced to prison

2009/11/22

Published in “Der Spiegel” on November 22, 2009
Source (German): http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,662707,00.html#ref=rss

Convict Abtahi: 'Confession' on TV?

The Iranian TV showed Mohammed Ali Abtahi confessing to have incited his fellow countrymen to riots in the context of the protests against the disputed presidential election – he had been pressured, says his family. Now the reformist politician is facing 6 years in prison.

Tehran – Former Iranian vice-president Mohammad Ali Abtahi has been sentenced to six years in prison for his role in the protests following the controversial presidential election. His lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, said on Sunday that Abtahi is charged with fuelling unrests aiming at an overthrow of the regime. He said he will file an appeal. Human rights groups and opposition circles talked of a show trial against Abtahi.

On Sunday, Abtahi was initially released on bail. According to the news agency IRNA, Tehran’s prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi announced that Abtahi was released on a bail equivalent to 470.000 Euro.

Abtahi had been arrested shortly after the controversial re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and has since been detained in the notorious Evin prison. In his hearing that took place in mid August, he had withdrawn previous statements and stressed that there had not been any fraud in the presidential elections. Apart from that, he made a “confession” that was broadcasted on TV, announcing that he had been wrong. His family and his political friends said that Abtahi had been under pressure during the confession. He is one of more than 100 moderate politicians who were arrested after the presidential election of June 12. 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 now responds 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.

ffr/AP/AFP

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