Saturday, August 08, 2009

Iran Elections: Second group of political detainees go on trial

Iranian media say a second group of political detainees has been brought to trial a week after the first hearing against 100 prominent political moderates and other protesters of the disputed June 12 presidential election.

The defendants in court Saturday include top Iranian reformists and journalists, along with a 24-year-old French lecturer, Clotilde Reiss (photo), and an Iranian employee of the French Embassy. Reiss was charged with "collecting information and provoking rioters."

Iranian media report that charges against those in court Saturday include aiding the opposition and foreign countries in their attempt to topple the government.

A week ago, more than 100 detainees were brought to court on charges of organizing mass protests and plotting to overthrow the government.

At that trial session, several prominent opposition leaders and reformists retracted their previous allegations of election fraud.

Human rights organizations say the retractions, as well as some confessions, were made after harsh interrogation tactics.

Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and former presidential candidate and one-time Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi have denounced the trial and say any detainee confessions are not valid.

Iranian authorities arrested thousands of people in a crackdown on opposition activists and protesters who said the June 12 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was fraudulent.

On Thursday, Iranian police officials acknowledged that detainees were abused at Tehran's Kahrizak prison. They called for two guards to be disciplined for physically abusing detainees without authorization. They also said the prison became overcrowded.

Last month, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the prison closed because of the rights violations.