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Iranian chief justice to hold rare meetings with ministers

TEHRAN, Aug 30 (AFP) - The new head of Iran's judiciary system will hold highly unusual meetings with the foreign and interior ministers, Iranian sources said Monday, as the courts prepare to try 13 Iranian Jews on charges of spying for Israel.

The sources did not say what topics Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi plans to discuss in separate Tuesday morning meetings with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi and Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mussavi-Lari. But it is rare for a chief judge to meet with government ministers.

A judiciary official who asked not to be identified said "these meetings are expected to focus on several subjects with local or international features."

There has been a sharp rise in crime in Iran, especially burglaries, armed assaults and kidnapping in recent weeks.

But the arrest of 13 Jews for alleged spying for Israel, a capital offense, has triggered an international outcry, especially from Israel, the United States and France.

The spying case is the biggest here in 20 years and centers on the Jewish state, with which Iran considers itself to be at war politically and through the media. The judicial system is expected to set the date and place of the trial soon.

Iran's legal system, put in place in 1996 and based on Islamic law, provides for the death penalty for anyone convicted of spying for Israel or the United States.

Iran has not had relations with either country since its 1979 Islamic revolution.


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