Lawyer for Iran Jews raises torture allegations
By Ali Raiss-Tousi
TEHRAN, July 13 (Reuters) - Iranian prosecutors resorted to unlawful
methods, which could be defined as torture under Islamic law, to extract
confessions from Iranian Jews convicted of espionage, a lawyer for the
convicted men said on Thursday.
``Solitary confinement before court hearings is considered a form of
torture by Islamic traditions and the constitution has banned torture as
a means of getting confessions,'' Esmail Nasseri, lead defence lawyer for
nine of the 10 Jews, told Reuters on Thursday.
``Our clients were held in solitary confinement for long periods during
the investigations. This can invalidate their confessions,'' Nasseri said
quoting traditions from Imam Ali, a successor to the Prophet Mohammad.
But the head of the local judiciary denied the allegation, saying he
could ``guarantee'' no undue pressure was involved.
Naseri also said the evidence brought by the prosecution was insufficient
and that he strongly felt the suspects had been found guilty by the Revolutionary
Court based on their confessions alone.
Local newspapers in the southern city of Shiraz, where the trial was
held, have published similar reports, quoting Nasseri.
JUDICIARY SAYS ALLEGATIONS ILLOGICAL
But the head of the justice department in Shiraz said that Nasseri's
allegations were ``illogical.''
``These comments are illogical. I can guarantee there was no torture
involved whatsoever,'' Hossein-Ali Amiri told Reuters.
``Iranian law does not allow convictions based solely on confessions,
the verdict was based on clear evidence,'' Amiri said.
``The lawyers are resorting to making noise instead of making a legally-based
defence,'' he added.
Ten Jews and two Moslem collaborators, a military officer and a defence
contractor, were found guilty of spying for Iran's arch-foe Israel, earlier
this month. They were sentenced to two to 13 years in prison.
Three Jews and two Moslems were acquitted and the case remains open
against at least four Moslems, as well as one Jewish suspect who has fled
Nasseri, who is preparing to file an appeal to the 71-page verdict,
said he was ``optimistic'' the appeals court would look favourably to the
``The judge at the Revolutionary Court did find all our clients not
guilty of gathering classified information, and we are more optimistic
towards the Court of Appeal,'' he said.
He also criticised overseas Jewish groups for politicising the case,
saying the current media hype was not in the best interests of his clients.
The high-profile trial has focused unwanted attention on the comfortable
lives many Jews have quietly carved out in the Islamic Republic, home to
the largest Jewish community in the Moslem Middle East.
It has also exposed differences within the 30,000-strong community.
Iranian Jewish sources say rivalries between the more secular Jews of Tehran
and their more religious brethren in Shiraz complicated attempts to settle
the matter quietly.
Iran's constitution guarantees a Jewish MP and recognises Jewish laws
on personal status including marriage, divorce, inheritance and burial.