Tuesday August 25 – the daily story

The main headlines:

The hardliners went for the jugular today, with another mass trial that put a host of leading reformist officials in the dock, heard the demand for the death penalty against a key reformist figure, included serious accusations against the  Rafsanjanis, and heard the court demand the dissolution of two key reformist fronts: the Islamic Participation Front which supports former President Khatami and the Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organisation. The indictment  read out by Tehran’s Deputy Prosecutor, Mehdi Sepehri, also claimed the election HQ of Mir-Hossein Moussavi in North Tehran was used for “various illegal activities, such as providing a base for the BBC’s Persian TV service”. When security forces raided the offices on the evening of the election some of them were taken hostage by people inside, he added.  PressTV, AP, Times, Guardian, LAT, Fars photos 1, Fars photos 2

♦-♦-♦ Possibly the most damaging aspect, however, was the accusation that the son of Ayatollah Rafsanjani sought to embezzle $2m of government money to fund his father’s election campaign in 2005. Hamzeh Karami, who made the accusation in court, also accused Mehdi Hashemi of money laundering. (Hashemi later told journalists the accusations were baseless).  PressTV

♦-♦-♦ Centre-piece of the trial was the supposed confession of Said Hajarian, the disabled veteran of the revolution regarded as the intellectual inspiration for the reformist movement. The prosecutor appeared to ask for the death penalty for Hajarian, saying he was the mastermind of the velvet revolution plot who had links to British intelligence. He accused him of meeting John Keane, “the British mastermind connected to MI5″ and the philosopher and sociologist Jurgen Habermas, “who is famous for the theory of civil disobedience”. According to the Revolutionary Road website, his daughter told the Jahan website that because of his partial paralysis Hajarian’s  confession had to be read for him. This was to have been done by his wife but, the blog says, to demonstrate the worthless value of it, the statement was instead read out by another of those on trial, Said Shariati. In it he admits to plotting a velvet revolution in league with Kian Tajbakhsh, accused of being a representative of the US-based foundation of the financier George Soros and another on trial today. Hajarian added that he was resigning from the Islamic Participation Front because of its “corruption”. PressTV, Fars, Fars, PressTV

♦-♦-♦ Tajbakhsh himself confessed to working with former President Khatami and Soros on a plan to overthrow the system which started when Khatami took office in  1997. PressTV

♦-♦-♦ Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, deputy head of the Participation Front,  confessed that the election was conducted properly  and no one had the right to raise any suspicion about it. Fars

♦-♦-♦ The Participation Front later issued a statement condemning today’s indictment and stating that today’s “show trial” was “just a pathetic means to legitimise the coup administration”.

Things have become so vitriolic in the row over sexual abuse in prisons that psychologists at the  University of Medical Sciences have publicly denied reports that Mehdi Karoubi, who is crusading to expose the abuse,  is suffering from a mental disorder.  On Saturday a news agency said Karoubi’s personal physician for the past 11 years, a psychologist affiliated to the university, had revealed that he had been suffering mentally for the past 16 months. Today’s statement said that not only had no one said such a thing, it would have been totally unethical for them to have done so.  PressTV

— Karoubi’s son Hossein said he was summoned to court today to answer charges of, among other things, spreading propaganda against the establishment, spreading prostitution, agitating public opinion, attempting to help others and giving interviews to foreign media, in particular the BBC Persian service. In another interview with a foreign news outlet, this time Radio Farda, he said that after he had told the court about how the country’s young people had shed their blood on the streets and young detainees had been killed in prison “they let me go after I paid bail”. link

— Farhad Tajari, a member of the committee investigating prison abuses, has told the IRNA news agency that after meeting Karoubi yesterday “and based on our thorough and complete investigation … we believe the claims are baseless.” link

— The Voice of America website carries the translation of a blog by a doctor about another instance of prison rape. link

— The Revolutionary Road blog carries a full translation of the statement Karoubi published yesterday by one rape victim. link (scroll down)

— Ahmad Tavakoli, the conservative MP, has told the new judicial chief,Sadeq Larijani, that the ban on Karoubi’s newspaper Etemad-e Melli is illegal and should be lifted immediately, the paper’s website reports. He also called on Larijani to refer Tehran’s Prosecutor-General, Said Mortazavi, to the courts for several violations.

A number of MPs visited the Behesht  Zahra cemetery south of Tehran today to investigate the claim that 44 unidentified bodies of detainees had been secretly buried there. According to the Persian language website Parleman News the MPs said they were worried the revelations might trigger efforts to clean up the evidence. The graves in question have been captured on two videos. video1, video2

— The release of the videos  appears to have sparked alarm among families of those still in detention. The Revolutionary Road blog says several families went to Evin prison Monday to see if they could visit their detained relatives, since they had not heard from them  for two weeks. When they were not given passes,  the crowd became angry. Today about 60 of them besieged the the revolutionary court seeking news, again, apparently, without success. link

— The Parleman News Persian language website says Mahmoud Rezayan, the chief executive officer of Behesht Zahra cemetery who yesterday denied the reports of the secret burials, has been removed from his position.

— Families of detainees have written to Sadeq Larijani, the Head of the Judiciary, pointing to the lack of respect for basic rights contained in the constitution and asking him to restore the rule of law, the NowRuz News website reported.

Ali Larijani, the Majlis Speaker, said meetings were taking place between MPs and proposed ministers in the new cabinet and that the criteria being looked at were “piety, moral standing, qualifications, and experience” and no others.  “The [Ahmadinejad] administration  is definitely aware that the care parliament is taking is to ensure that a strong and dedicated cabinet takes office, one that is able to handle the people’s affairs under the current situation.” PressTV

Only 20 of 290 MPs attended President Ahmadinejad’s Ramadan feast on Sunday night,Etemad newspaper  reported. link

AP quoted unidentified diplomats in Vienna as saying that although Iran has put more machines on line to enrich uranium, its output is stagnating, suggesting  it may be running out of uranium ore. link

A man convicted of adultery is facing death by stoning in the northern city of Sari, despite a  judicial moratorium on such executions, the Sarmayeh newspaper reported. link

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