Iran cleric plays down calls to hang opposition heads

(Reuters) – A senior Iranian cleric said on Friday there was no need to hang opposition chiefs as their influence was already dead — a softer line that reflected reluctance to make martyrs out of leaders of the Green movement.

Members of parliament and angry pro-government crowds have called for the swift arrest, trial and execution of Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi after they staged their first rally in more than a year on Monday in which at least two people died.

But Friday prayers leader Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a hardliner who heads the hugely influential state Guardian Council, said calls to hang them were superfluous as they and their movement were as good as dead already.

“To those who call for their execution, I should say that they have already been executed. They have lost all their credibility and prestige — everything.”

Mousavi and Karoubi lost the 2009 presidential election to the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a vote they say was rigged, something the government denies.


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