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Iran: Suspended jail sentence for government newspaper head

Source: Press TV

A court has handed a suspended jail sentence to the managing editor of Irannewspaper accused of smearing former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's son.

Kaveh Eshtehardi

In the wake of the last hearing session on December 4, 2010, the court sentenced Kaveh Eshtehardi to six months in jail for defamation and 10 lashes for publishing lies, IRNA reported on Saturday.

"The court ignored the jury's (verdict) opinion and my defense," Eshtehardi was quoted as saying.

Rafsanjani's son, Mahdi, who is currently studying in the United Kingdom, faces trial and imprisonment upon return to Tehran charges relating to the post-election unrest and financial corruption.

Mehdi Hashemi

Hashemi filed the lawsuit suit against Eshtehardi over an article published in Iran newspaper.

"This newspaper, citing other news agencies, had published a request by some 220 student committees calling on the prosecutor general to address the case against Mehdi Hashemi," Eshtehardi explained.

"This is while the issue was covered by most agencies and news websites and newspapers," he said, adding that the ruling comes despite the fact that "all 14 members of the jury had acquitted my media [outlet]."

Eshtehardi went on to note that he had been informed of the verdict verbally after reading about the ruling on news websites.

However, a clause of the ruling said that the judge had decided to delay the sentence for three years, warning that should the defendant repeat his offences during this period he forfeits the suspension.

Eshtehardi is the managing editor of the Iran Cultural-Media Institute that runs several publications, including the Iran Newspaper, Iran Daily, al-Vefagh, and Iran Varzeshi (Sport).

Ahmadinejad supporters demonstrate against Rafsanjani family after Ahmadinejad leveled accusations against them in a televised debate before the June 2009 presidential elections.

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