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Iranian press focus on acquittal of suspects in fraud case

Iranian press on Saturday was abuzz with reports about the acquittal of three main suspects in a fraud case, including the son of an influential religious figure in the Islamic Republic, IRNA reported from Tehran.

One of the defendants in the case was Nasser Vaez Tabasi, who was being tried along with the former head of the Bank Melli Iran for allegedly misappropriating 144 billion rials through their Al-Makaseb company which is based in Dubai, the Persian daily Tosse'e said.

A court in Tehran had indicted them over selling the shares of the company to another institute while 51 percent of Al-Makaseb was state-owned.

The defendants had insisted that Al-Makaseb was private, while according to the Iranian law shares of above 51 percent, held by government, automatically makes an entity state-owned.

And the court exonerated the defendants on grounds of their ignorance about the state law.

Press cited a former member of parliament, Yadollah Eslami as saying, "When the presumption of ignorance leads to acquittals in a massive case such as Al-Makaseb, one must be spared to say anything but 'may God help us'."

The Persian daily Seday-e Edalat cited the former editor of the English-language daily Tehran Times, Abbas Salimi Namin, as saying that the court ruling will open the way for similar offenses in the future.

"The Al-Makaseb case was a big test for the Judiciary," Salimi Namin said, adding the court should not have acquitted the suspects on grounds of ignorance.

"This presumption could hold true in the case of many suspects and many defendants can walk out from courts with acquittal on such a ground," he added, the paper said.

The statements were printed by many other papers. They also published the remarks of a lawyer and a university professor, Najafi Tavana, who asked the court ruling be reviewed and retracted if any violation was proven.

"People's hope in confronting those who misappropriate state property is becoming dim by the inefficient rulings which are issued and the public trust in the Judiciary is weakened," he was cited as saying.

"The people earlier hoped that an organization had finally undertaken a probe into the existing corruption and that it wanted to clamp down on violations of the law," Tavana said.

... Payvand News - 3/15/03 ... --

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