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Former Tehran mayor shares prison cell with 200 inmates: paper

TEHRAN, May 12 (AFP) - Former Tehran mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi, jailed last week for corruption, is sharing a prison cell with some 200 inmates, an Iranian newspaper reported Wednesday.

"Karbaschi is kept in a big prison cell in Evin prison (in northern Tehran) with some 200 inmates whose inability to pay back debts to their creditors brought them to prison," the government paper Iran said.

"The former mayor spends time with his fellow inmates everyday seeking a solution to their financial problems," it said, adding that "two inmates had already been released in the past few days thanks to Karbaschi's help."

The conservative Tehran Times newspaper had mocked on Tuesday the allegedly comfortable conditions of the former mayor in Evin prison, in an article under the headline "Karbaschi Feeling at Home in Jail."

"According to an informed source ... Karbaschi has been allowed to make phone calls to his family members everyday. He does not eat prison food, he places orders for his food from outside restaurants," the paper said.

The moderate former mayor began serving a two-year jail term last Thursday following his conviction on corruption charges.

The ex-mayor's spectacular trial was widely seen among reformers and moderates as a politically motivated attack by the regime's conservatives and hardliners aimed at paralyzing Khatami's reform agenda.

A number of leading members of the reformist camp have sprung to the defense of the imprisoned former mayor, pointing to his contributions to the Islamic Revolution and his many achievements running the capital.

An appeal by 146 out of the 270 members of parliament to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei asking him to pardon Karbaschi was turned down Tuesday.


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