Iran News ...


2/18/03

Lawyer rejects blasphemy charge against Aghajari

Tehran, Feb 18, IRNA -- Outspoken university professor, Hashem Aghajari's lawyer has rejected charges of blasphemy against his client after the Iranian Judiciary announced that the veteran intellectual, whose death sentence was quashed last Friday, may face the same punishment during a new trial.

On Monday, the newly-appointed Judiciary spokesman, Gholamhossein Elham, said that the death penalty had only been halted, and not entirely lifted, because of "defects" found in the course of investigations into the case.

Aghajari's lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, brushed aside those claims.

"My client has been accused of apostasy and denying the basics of the (Islamic) religion. This is while apostasy is relevant if one denies God and the prophets ... and my client has not made any statement to this effect," he said.

Aghajari's death sentence is related to his speech in August last year in which he called for religious restructuring and criticized the Islamic principle of emulating religious leaders in Iran.

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

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

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei put an end to the impasse by ordering the sentence to be reviewed.

A bench of the Supreme Court, based in the religious city of Qom, on Friday revoked the death sentence, issued by a court of first order in the western city of Hamedan on November 6 last year.

Elham said Monday that Aghajari's case had "to be examined at the same court of first order since the (death) verdict has entirely not been quashed".

"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.

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

Last Saturday, one of Aghajari's supporters, Hossein Mojahed, who is the head of the mainstream Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) in the Hamedan province, was sent to six months in jail on charge of inciting public opinion.

Mojahed was summoned to court and indicted 10 months ago. A court in Hamedan had initially sentenced him to 30 months in jail and 74 lashes on charges of defamation and libel as well as inciting public opinion.

However, the city's appeals court commuted the sentence to six-month imprisonment after it rejected the libel charge.

Aghajari's death not entirely lifted: Judiciary spokesman

Tehran, Feb 18, IRNA -- Outspoken university professor Hashem Aghajari, whose death sentence on blasphemy charges was lifted last Friday, may face the same sentence during a new trial, the newly-appointed Judiciary spokesman, Gholamhossein Elham, said here Monday.

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 added.

"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.

A bench of the Supreme Court, based in the religious city of Qom, on Friday revoked the death sentence, issued by a court of first order in the western city of Hamedan on November 6 last year.

"According to the law, this case has to be examined at the same court of first order since the (death) verdict has entirely not been quashed," the Judiciary spokesman said.

Aghajari, 45, further faces an eight-year banishment in desert cities as well as 74 lashes and ban from teaching for 10 years.

Elham said that the Supreme Court's decision only entailed the death sentence and as for the rest of the verdicts, which were still valid, the Hamedan Appeals court would make a decision.

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.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei put an end to the impasse by ordering the sentence to be reviewed.

Last Saturday, one of Aghajari's supporters, Hossein Mojahed, who is the head of the mainstream Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) in the Hamedan province, was sent to six months in jail on charge of inciting public opinion.

Mojahed was summoned to court and indicted 10 months ago. A court in Hamedan had initially sentenced him to 30 months in jail and 74 lashes on charges of defamation and libel as well as inciting public opinion.

However, the city's appeals court commuted the sentence to six-month imprisonment after it rejected the libel charge.

... Payvand News - 2/18/03 ... --



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