Unfair trials and ill treatment of prisoners continue
in Iran: Amnesty
LONDON, June 16 (AFP) - Iran continued to hold hundreds of political
prisoners in 1998, many sentenced after unfair trials, the human rights
group Amnesty International said Wednesday in its annual report.
"Reports of torture and ill treatment continued to be received,"
Amnesty said, adding that its information also suggested that "extrajudicial
executions" had occurred.
It also said human rights abuses had been committed by armed opposition
The report detailed a number of instances in which journalists were
detained as a result of their work. Sayed Mohsen Saidzadeh was held for
six months reportedly over an article he wrote about the role of women
in Islam, while Mohammad Reza Zaeri was fined and forced to apologise for
an article allegedly insulting Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Towards the end of the year several writers and intellectuals were found
murdered. They included veteran politician Dariyush Foruhar and his wife
Parvaneh, and Mohammad Mokhtari and Muhammad Ja'far Puyandeh, well known
for their desire to establish an independent writers' association.
Amnesty said at least 20 members of the Bahai religious minority continued
to be held, at least six of them under sentence of death. One Bahai was
executed in Mashhad in July for converting a Moslem woman to the Bahai
Several Moslem religious leaders were arrested in 1998 over their opposition
to government policies. The report said at least three Grand Ayatollahs
were believed to be under house arrest, and large numbers of their supporters
Amnesty also reported the arrest of scores of people following demonstrations
in Tabriz, and others held without charge or trial for offences "such
as espionage, propagating pan-Turkism, or counter-revolution."
The report said political prisoners continued to receive unfair trials.
"Detainees were reportedly denied access either to any legal counsel
or to a lawyer of thier choice," it said.
"Trials before special courts, such as the Special Court for the
Clergy, continued to fall far short of international standards," it
It cited as unfair the trial of Tehran mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi
on charges of corruption, and the subsequent arrest of 16 Tehran district
mayors, some of whom were sentenced to flogging.
"Torture and ill-treatment continued to be reported," Amnesty
said. Methods including beatings and floggings, sleep deprivation, being
forced to stand for long periods, exposure to loud noises, lack of food
and threats to relatives
Several of the Tehran municipal officials said they had been tortured
to "elicit confessions or to incriminate others," the report
Amnesty said Iran continued to apply "cruel, inhuman or degrading"
punishments, including flogging and stoning to death.
It said the death penalty was widely used "often imposed for vaguely
worded offences." Scores of executions were reported, it said, some
carried out in public.
Amnesty said there had also been a number of possible "disappearances"
and reports of deaths in mysterious circumstances, suggesting "extrajudicial
The report said the government of President Mohammad Khatami had sought
to distance itself from the death sentence pronounced on British author
Salman Rushdie by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but that several
senior religious figures and members of parliament continued to support
The People's Muhajadeen opposition group was also involved in violence.
It set off bomb explosions and three locations in Tehran in June, killing
"an unconfirmed" number of people, most of them civilians, the