Iran reformers call for probe of hardline judiciary
TEHRAN, Jan 28 (Reuters) - More than 70 Iranian MPs have signed a petition
calling for an investigation of Tehran's hardline judiciary, behind the
arrest of liberal activists and the closure of reformist publications in
the Islamic republic.
"Under the constitution, the judiciary must defend individual and
social rights and freedoms," the official news agency IRNA on Sunday
quoted Ibrahim Amini, a member of parliament's judicial committee, as saying.
"Unfortunately, the judicial trend has led to public mistrust
and been used as a weapon to confront reformers," he said. "To
uphold civil rights, we need a healthy climate and fair judges".
The petition is to be handed to parliament's presiding board. Amini
said the signatories wanted an investigation of "violations and discriminations"
against the accused as well as mistreatment of prisoners.
The judiciary is dominated by hardliners opposed to social and political
reforms favoured by embattled President Mohammad Khatami and his supporters
The Tehran judiciary led a mass crackdown on dissent last year by closing
more than 30 publications and imprisoning journalists and political activists.
Last week, more than 150 members of parliament signed a petition to
the chief of judiciary demanding that the judicial apparatus respect citizens'
Judicial officials have spurned such calls and pressed on with their
campaign. A reformist member of parliament was briefly detained on Sunday
for a critical remark he made in parliament.
The move alarmed many reformist deputies. Nasser Qavami, head of parliament's
judicial committee, called on Sunday for an urgent bill to grant immunity
to MPs against judicial action.
"We need to pass a law as soon as possible, or our deputies will
face numerous problems given the current situation in the judiciary,"
IRNA quoted Qabami as saying. "The constitution clearly states that
deputies can express their views freely".