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Greens call on Austrian president to cancel Iran visit

VIENNA, Sept 16 (AFP) - The leader of Austria's Greens called on President Thomas Klestil Thursday to cancel a planned trip to Iran next week because of death sentences handed down there against four leaders of recent pro-democracy demonstrations.

Alexander van der Bellen said in a statement issued by his party that the two-day visit, the first by a European head of state since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Tehran, would be inappropriate with the four executions looming.

On Sunday, the president of Tehran's revolutionary court said the four main instigators of protests which erupted in July after police violently dispersed a student demonstration in Tehran University.

The decision was denounced by reformers in Iran who said there had been no public word about any trial. They called for details of the case to be made public.

Van der Bellen said the Klestil's visit would lend a veneer of respectability to Iran despite its human rights and be an "insult" to the democratic opposition in Tehran.

Klestil is scheduled to visit Iran for two days in a bid to improve economic ties between the two countries. The European representative in the National Council for Iranian Resistance, Masud Rajavi, protested the visit in a letter to Klestil on Monday.

More than 1,400 people in all were arrested in connection with July's unrest, triggered when police attacked a Tehran university dormitory where students had been demonstrating against the closure of a leading pro-reform newspaper by a conservative court.

Six days of bloody rioting erupted in Tehran and the unrest -- the worst since the aftermath of the 1979 revolution -- also spread to the provincial capital of Tabriz, where students said at least 15 people, three of them women, suffered gunshot wounds after security forces opened fire on a student sit-in.


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