The IranianFly to Iran


email us

US Transcom
US Transcom

Sehaty Foreign Exchange

    News & views

Iran's reformers decry secret death sentences

TEHRAN, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Pro-reform newspapers in Iran voiced dismay on Monday that a Revolutionary Court had met in secret to sentence four people to death for their role in July's pro-democracy unrest.

Several dailies accused the conservative court of mishandling the case for political ends.

They said the public had been shocked to learn of the verdicts, revealed in a weekend newspaper interview with Gholamhossein Rahbarpour (see photo), head of Revolutionary Courts in Tehran.

Editorialists argued that Iran's moves towards a civil society required greater openness from courts and other officials. They said that the court had ignored a report on the unrest by the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Iran's top security body, that focused much of its attention on the police misconduct that sparked the trouble and took a relatively soft line on student involvement in the ensuing turmoil.

``Rahbarpour's statements are part of the conservative campaign against the report of the (SNSC) investigating committee, which was somewhat lenient on the students,'' said an editorial in the pro-reform daily Arya.

``The an interview of death sentences for four of those accused of inciting riots...was shocking for public opinion that has been kept uninformed about the court proceedings,'' said a commentary in Akhbar-e Eqtesad.

``The lack of clear reference to the charges and even their identities has added to the vague nature of this interview.''

Even the conservative Entekhab lamented that Rahbarpour had conveyed such an important announcement through an exclusive interview, and it worried that Iran's standing abroad could be undermined by the handling of the death sentences.

On Sunday, the hardline daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami carried the interview with Rahbarpour in which he announced that two of the execution orders had been confirmed by the supreme court and two others were under judicial review.

The judge, who did not list the charges or even the names of those convicted, said other death sentences could follow.

His remarks were the first public indication that trials had already been completed for some of the roughly 1,000 suspects handed over to the Revolutionary Courts in connection with some of the worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The unrest began after police and hardline vigilantes attacked a peaceful student demonstration at Tehran University against the banning of a reformist newspaper, killing at least one person and injuring scores.

That attack touched off escalating protests, including demands for change in Iran's system of supreme clerical rule, that culminated in two days of street riots in central Tehran.

The authorities finally restored order after calling out the Islamic Basij militia, staging a massive counter-demonstration in favour of the clerical system and denouncing ringleaders as ``mohareb'' (those fighting God) and ``mofsed'' (those spreading corruption), charges that commonly carry the death penalty.

Reformers grouped around President Mohammad Khatami have largely kept silent in the face of allegations by the security forces, backed by televised ``confessions,'' that dissident exiles and extremist student leaders were to blame for the unrest.

But first reactions to the death sentences suggest moderates are prepared to challenge the establishment view of the protests.

In particular, they took issue with the judge's characterisation of individual student leaders, and Iran's biggest pro-reform student movement, as impious and opposed to the broader interests of the system.


Copyright © 1997 Abadan Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved. May not be duplicated or distributed in any form

 MIS Internet Services

Web Site Design by
Multimedia Internet Services, Inc

 GPG Internet server

Internet server by
Global Publishing Group.