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Iran court delays verdict on German in sex case

TEHRAN, Aug 11 (Reuters) - An Iranian court postponed a verdict on Wednesday in the case of a German charged with having sex wih a Moslem woman.

Defence lawyer Malek-Houshang Qahari said the court, sitting behind closed doors, was still investigating the case against businessman Helmut Hofer.

``I don't know when the verdict will be issued, but what is certain is that Hofer will be acquitted. It only has to be investigated,'' he told Reuters.

Hofer, 58, showed no emotion as he was whisked in and out of the court in downtown Tehran under heavy security, wearing a grey Iranian prison outfit.

Journalists and photographers were not allowed to talk to him or take photographs.

Hofer was sentenced to death last year for having sex with a 27-year-old unmarried medical student.

But in February Iran's supreme court threw out the execution order passed against him by two lower courts pending a retrial.

Under Iran's Islamic law a non-Moslem can be executed for having sex with a Moslem woman outside of marriage.

The penalty for adultery for a Moslem is death but an unmarried Moslem who has sex outside of marriage is punished with 100 lashes.

Hofer was released on bail in April but was rearrested last week, allegedly for having ties with ``suspicious'' foreign elements and out of fear he might flee Iran.

But his lawyer said there were no new charges against Hofer.

Hofer's return to Evin prison followed the announcement last month that German authorities had arrested an Iranian national for allegedly spying on Iranian dissidents in Germany. Iran denies the allegation.


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