Iran News ...


5/29/04

Iran's Judiciary: Aghajari close to having death sentence quashed

Tehran, May 29, IRNA -- Jailed dissident Hashem Aghajari is close to having his death sentence on apostasy charges quashed, a deputy judiciary chief told IRNA reporters here Saturday.

"Preliminary steps have been taken to revoke the (death) sentence," Deputy Judiciary Chief Abdorreza Izadpanah said.

The cleric said the judiciary had taken its cue from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's decree, which showed charges brought against Aghajari do not make a case for blasphemy.

"Given Judiciary Chief (Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi)'s stress and advice on the need for speedy handling of the case, we hope the final verdict on the case will be announced in the coming days," Izadpanah said IRNA's head office here.

This comes in the wake of a provisional court's ruling in western Hamedan province which recently reaffirmed the death sentence on Aghajari.

It first tried and sentenced Aghajari to death for blasphemy in 2002.

The ruling sparked days of student protests in Tehran and several other cities, prompting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to order a review in November 2002.

The sentence is related to the statements made by Aghajari in Hamedan, in which he decried some of the Shi'ite Muslim practices and demanded they be rectified.

In addition to the death penalty, the court sentenced him to 74 lashes, a 10-year ban from teaching, and eight years of internal banishment.

Aghajari is a history professor at Tehran Teachers Training University and lost a leg in the Iraqi-imposed war of 1980-88.

His defense lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, had said recently that he was confident the the Supreme Court would absolve his client and revoke the death sentence imposed by the lower court.

Aghajari has consistently refused to appeal the death sentence.

... Payvand News - 5/29/04 ... --



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