TEHRAN (Reuters) – Five people detained during violent anti-government demonstrations in Iran last month went on trial on Monday on charges that may be punishable by the death penalty, official media reported.
It was the first trial held over unrest on Ashura, the day of ritual Shi’ite mourning that fell on December 27, and it was a further sign of the authorities’ determination to put an end to protests that rocked Iran after last year’s disputed election.
Eight people were killed in clashes between security forces and supporters of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi on Ashura, in the most serious violence in the Islamic Republic since the aftermath of the presidential poll in June.
After the vote “the protests turned to an anti-revolutionary movement with the aim of toppling the system,” chief Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told state television, referring to the case against the accused.
The holding of a swift trial of some of those arrested last month may in part be intended as a warning to the pro-reform opposition not to stage any similar rallies on February 11, when Iran marks the 31st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Opposition backers have seized on occasions marked in the Islamic revolutionary calendar to revive their protests, defying arrests and crackdowns by the hard-line leadership.
The election, which reformist leaders said was rigged in favor of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, touched off the…