Press court deals with woman editor in three hours
TEHRAN, Nov 15 (AFP) - Iran's press court Monday took just three hours
to hear charges against a female newspaper editor accused of 15 different
offences including the publication of anti-Islamic articles.
Jaleh Oskui, 40, head of the banned Penj-Shanbeh-ha (Thursdays) weekly,
appeared without a defence lawyer before press court judge Said Mortazavi.
(Related photo: here)
The indictment read by the judge included "the publication of false
news (and) provocative headlines, misleading the readership, as well as
insulting Islamic sanctities and the publication of anti-Islamic articles."
Oskui rejected the accusations, particularly the allegation of publishing
provocative headlines, saying: "That belongs to the profession of
any journalist. "Headlines are chosen to attract attention and are
not necessarily aimed at misleading the readership."
Mortazavi closed the hearing after three hours, and the seven jury members
said they would announce their findings later in the day. The judge, who
under Iranian law is not bound to follow the jury, will issue his verdict
within a week.
Oskui was arrested last October 10 and held in jail until October 18
before being freed on bail.
It was the first time a female editor has been jailed in the running
battle between the reformist press and Iran's conservative courts and parliament.
The conservative-dominated judiciary has cracked down this year on the
pro-reform press that supports President Mohammad Khatami, closing four
leading newspapers and arresting or jailing dozens of journalists.
Mortazavi, who has presided over many of the trials, on Sunday wound
up hearings against veteran reformist newspaper editor Mashallah Shamsolvaezin,
giving him five days to provide a written defence, the official IRNA news
The trial took three days, during which Shamsolvaezin questioned the
authority of the court and the honesty of the judge, and had one of his
lawyers jailed five days for contempt.
Shamsolvaezin faces charges of fraud and "insulting Islamic sanctities"
over articles published in his since-banned daily Neshat, notably one questioning
the validity of the death penalty and Iran's "eye-for-an-eye"
law of retribution.
Neshat was banned in September in what its editors said was a "political
coup" designed to muzzle the reformist press ahead of crucial parliamentary
elections in February.