Iranian cleric rejects charges of spreading propaganda
TEHRAN, April 14 (AFP) - Popular Iranian reformist Mohsen Kadivar rejected
Wednesday accusations he spread propaganda hostile to the Islamic regime,
charging that his trial was unconstitutional and the court incompetent
to try his case.
The cleric told a special court for the clergy on the opening day of
his trial he rejected as "thoroughly false" the charge that he
was a sworn enemy of the Islamic state.
"I also outright reject the baseless charge that I have disseminated
false propaganda and stirred the public against the state," said Kadivar,
quoted by the official news agency IRNA.
Kadivar said the court was not qualified to investigate these offenses.
"Investigation into political and press offenses must be carried
out in the presence of a jury and by a qualified court of the judiciary.
The special court for clergy is not a part of the judiciary," Kadivar
But Mohammad Salimi, presiding at the hearing, shot back that the charges
against Kadivar were "not political or press offenses."
Attorney-General Mohammad Ibrahim Nikunam said the charges carried
a sentence of between three months and one year in prison, while Salami
said a verdict was expected "after a week."
Reformist MP Jamileh Kadivar, the cleric's brother, lashed out at the
court in front of television cameras before entering for the opening session.
"They are worse than the executioners of the shah's regime,"
she said, referring to the imperial ruler who was toppled by the 1979
When the trial room became overcrowded, reporters had to be backed
out of the court amid intense public interest in the case.
The court, which operates independently of the judiciary and almost
always behind closed doors, has been heavily criticised over the arrest
of Kadivar, which sparked demonstrations nationwide.
Some 200 journalists signed a petition saying his arrest was unconstitutional
and an "offense" against Iran's writers and intellectuals, while
the streets of Tehran were plastered with pro-Kadivar posters.
Kadivar, a university professor as well as a cleric, is considered
one of the leading lights of the reform movement opposed to the religious
hardliners who control Iran's police and judiciary.
He has been seen as a "political prisoner" since the court
ordered his detention in March. He has written a number of articles calling
for Iran's political life to have more autonomy from religion in the Islamic