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Iran's outspoken intellectual Hashem Aghajari given home leave: source

Hashem Aghajari, an outspoken university professor who has escaped death sentence once, has gone on temporary home leave from prison in the western Iranian city of Hamedan, an informed source told IRNA here Sunday.

Aghajari left the prison for a one-week home leave on Sunday after posting 1.3 billion rials in surety, the source added.

Aghajari, 46, was initially sentenced by a court here to death on charge of blaspheming Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). But the sentence was quashed by the Supreme Court after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered a review.

Aghajari further faces an eight-year banishment in desert cities as well as 74 lashes and ban from teaching for 10 years.

The sentences are related to Aghajari's speech in August last year in which he called for religious restructuring and criticized the Islamic principle of emulating religious leaders in Iran.

Aghajari is a war veteran, who lost his leg as well as his brother during the Iraqi imposed-war of 1980-1988.

The death sentence drew angry criticism, with students staging several days of protest rallies to call on the Judiciary to suspend the ruling.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said in February that Aghajari may face another death sentence during a new trial.

The death penalty has not been entirely quashed; it has rather only been halted on the ground of 'defects in investigations' and Aghajari has to stand trial at the same court which issued the execution, the official has said.

"It is possible that the new ruling confirm the initial verdict or a different verdict is issued," Elham said, adding the defendant could then appeal.

... Payvand News - 4/6/03 ... --

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