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Khatami defends his legal rights as Iran's 2nd highest authority

Tehran, Oct 23, IRNA -- President Mohammad Khatami here Tuesday defended his constitutional rights as the second highest ranking authority of the Islamic Republic after the supreme Leader.

A hyped-up controversy over the president's constitutional rights has led to the exchange of notices between him and the Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, initiated with Khatami's protest to the courts' prosecution of MPs.

"I stated to the judiciary chief that the president, according to the Constitution, is the second supreme official of the country," he told reporters here Tuesday after briefing the parliament on his development plans.

"I announced that the president, besides being the head of the state, is responsible for the execution of the Constitution," Khatami added.

"There is a law on this, which still remains in force, although it has some deficiencies," Khatami said and asked Iranian officials to assist him with his duties.

"I appeal to all state officials to help me, as the president and the second highest ranking authority who is responsible for the execution of the Constitution, with my grave responsibilities," Khatami said.

The statements come following a controversy over the constitutional rights of the president, after Khatami announced that the prosecution of MPs contravened a political immunity which the Iranian Constitution has provided for them.

The notice prompted Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi to respond, calling Khatami's letter "a surprise."

President Khatami had protested Tehran courts' rulings on MPs from central Hamedan province Hossein Loqmanian, and from Tehran Fatemeh Haqiqatjou, saying deputies should not be arrested or put on trial for expressing their opinions.

... Payvand News - 10/23/01 ... --

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