Mass trial for Iran protest leaders

During yesterday’s hearing, prosecutors read out an indictment outlining what they said was a plot by the main pro-reform political parties to carry out a “velvet revolution” to overthrow the Islamic Republic, similar to the largely peaceful popular revolts that ended communist rule in eastern Europe.

State lawyers alleged that three of the biggest opposition parties took money from foreign non-governmental organizations, but Mousavi’s website denied any overseas aid or foreign connections.

Among the defendants were several prominent reformist opposition activists, including former vice-president Mohammad Ali Abtahi and Mohsen Mirdamadi, the leader of the biggest reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front.

An opposition website denounced what it called a show trial and claimed defendants had no access to lawyers. Friends of defendants said they had been shocked by pictures from the packed courtroom showing a haggard-looking Abtahi in a prison uniform with more than a hundred handcuffed defendants. A reformist lawyer, Mohammad Reza Tabesh, quoted Abtahi’s wife as saying the former vice-president had lost 18kg (40lb) after 43 days in custody. Many said they suspected confessions were fabricated or had been obtained under duress.

“If you look at Abtahi’s physical condition … it is clear he has been tortured and mistreated,” said one friend. “I have known Abtahi for a long time, I know how he uses word… >>>

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