Kasra Naji, special correspondent for BBC Persian Television, says the timing and scale of the trial came as a surprise and suggests Iran’s leadership wants to send a message to stop any more protests.
But judging from messages on micro-blogging site twitter and the internet, our correspondent says, the move may have the opposite effect, with several people talking about the need for new demonstrations and calling those on trial “national heroes”.
Some of the defendants told the court their earlier claims of fraud during the 12 June poll were baseless, official media said.
Allegations of vote-rigging were made by defeated candidates and their supporters as soon as it became clear President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been re-elected by a large margin.
But former vice-president Mohammad Ali Abtahi was quoted by Fars news agency as telling the court: “I say to all my friends and all friends who hear us, that the issue of fraud in Iran was a lie and was brought up to create riots.”
He said that the aim was to create a “velvet revolution”, referring to the overthrow of Communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989.