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Iranian academic Hashem Aqajari pleads not guilty, lawyer

Academic Hashem Aqajari has pleaded not guilty, his lawyer Saleh Nikbakht said on Sunday adding that he filed a protest with the Appeals Court in Hamdan against the prison terms against his client, IRNA reported from Tehran.

Aqajari, a war veteran had been sentenced to death by a provincial court last year, but, the Supreme Court turned down the charges brought against him as irrelevant and sent back the lawsuit to Hamedan for re-examination.

Nikbakht said that that the Hamedan court once again sentenced his client to 11 months and 29 days in prison for insulting the sanctities, a charge that cannot be brought against Aqajari, a faithful individual with religious commitment.

The lawyer criticized the Hamedan Appeals Court for not dropping the different charges that have nothing to do with Aqajari's bright record of respect for the infallible household of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and his commitment to the Islamic Republic.

"It's surprising that the Appeals Court has failed to clear Aqajari of the charges and order his innocence, despite the Supreme Court paved the way to do so," the lawyer said.

The charges against Aqajari had been politically motivated for a critical statement he had made calling for democracy and open society.

Upon a local court in Hamdan issued a death sentence against the academic, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei ordered the Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi to take necessary step to save the innocent life.

The lawyer believe that Aqajari's lawsuit should be transferred to Tehran to put an end to the ordeal from which he is suffering. But Hamedan Justice Department resisted the call.

... Payvand News - 7/13/03 ... --

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