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Lawyer confident Iran's Supreme Court will quash death for Aghajari

Tehran, May 15, IRNA -- The attorney of jailed dissident Hashem Aghajari says he is confident Iran's Supreme Court will again quash the death sentence, reaffirmed on his client.

Saleh Nikbakht, speaking to IRNA here Saturday, also tried to calm down Iran's collegiate circles, assuring he would exhaust 'all legitimate channels' to prevent the execution from being carried out.

He said the case was now on board one after a court in western Hamedan had slapped again the death sentence on Aghajari.

The local court first convicted and sentenced Aghajari to death for blasphemy in 2002, but Iran's Supreme Court turned down the sentence and sent the case back to the provincial court for further review.

Nikbakht recently complained that Hamedan judge in the case had failed to 'clear any of the points that have been singled out as shortcomings by the Supreme Court'.

"The judge has issued the ruling without clearing those deficiencies and fulfilling the orders of the state Supreme Council; this amounts to ruling against the Supreme Council," he said.

Aghajari is refusing to appeal the death sentence, imposed for the second time.

The university lecturer was convicted in November 2002 of insulting Islam and in addition to the death penalty, he was sentenced to 74 lashes, a 10-year ban from teaching and eight years of internal banishment.

The original sentence sparked protests in Tehran and other Iranian cities by university students, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the judiciary to review the verdict.

Aghajari is a history professor at Tehran's Teachers Training University and a disabled veteran of the Iraqi imposed war between 1980 and 1988.

... Payvand News - 5/15/04 ... --

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