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Author Topic:   Iran hardline body rejects political crimes bill
Shahrzad
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posted June 29, 2001 09:50     Click Here to See the Profile for Shahrzad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By Ali Raiss-Tousi

TEHRAN, June 28 (Reuters) - Iran's hardline constitutional watchdog body has rejected a bill defining political crimes and seeking to guarantee free speech and dissidents' rights after a recent judicial clampdown, newspapers said on Thursday.

The 12-man Guardian Council, dominated by conservative clerics, said the political crimes law passed by parliament last month was "unconstitutional" and "contrary to the religion", the daily Norouz said.

Reformist MPs had overwhelmingly passed the bill, proposed by supporters of moderate President Mohammad Khatami, requiring "political offences" to be heard by juries at public courts, not by Revolutionary Courts or military tribunals.

The legislation also limited the amount of time dissidents could be interrogated in temporary confinement to 15 days and entitled political prisoners sentenced behind closed doors without the benefit of a jury to a re-trial.

The feared Revolutionary Courts have arrested dozens of liberal Islamist intellectuals in recent months and hardline press courts have banned some 40 pro-reform newspapers, jailing a number of their journalists.

Many of the recent detainees have been held in solitary confinement in military detention centres for more than 100 days.

"Without this law,...thinkers, political figures and those who merely voice criticism would continue to pay for their acts by being jailed," reformist deputy Davoud Soleimani said during a parliamentary debate before the bill was passed.

Iran's constitution stipulates that all press and political offences are to be heard by juries at open trials, but many "political offenders" have so-far been tried by single judges, behind closed doors.

Parliament is expected to reject the Guardian Council's demands to ammend the legislation, in which case the bill will be sent for final adjudication to the Expediency Council, a body of advisors to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Khamenei, widely seen to be close to hardliners who are at loggerheads with the president's reforms programme, appoints leading Guardian Council members and the powerful judiciary chief.

SUPREME LEADER DEFENDS JUDICIARY

Khamenei publicly defended the conservative judiciary chief in a speech on Thursday and warned reformers not to criticise the courts.

"Some people are trying to reach their own political ends by strong criticism of the judiciary in newspapers or by bringing political pressure. This cannot be allowed," Khamenei said. "If this becomes a norm, it can no longer be tolerated."

He also warned people not to protest against the prison sentences handed down against reformist activists.

"Defending criminals sentenced by the law is contrary to the law and a crime in itself. This should be clearly understood."

Two reformist MPs, Hossein Loqmanian and Issa Mousavi-nejad, have received prison sentences of 13 and 12 months from hardline courts this month.

Loqmanian was charged with slandering the judiciary and Mousavi-nejad has been sentenced for "making an inciting speech", the official IRNA news agency said on Thursday.

Enraged reformers have accused the judiciary of double standards and say the sentences contradict laws which grant parliamentarians immunity in carrying out their official duties.

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Shahrzad
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posted June 29, 2001 09:51     Click Here to See the Profile for Shahrzad     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Iran rejects political rights bill

BBC World
By Jim Muir in Tehran

June 28, 2001

A parliamentary bill in Iran, aimed at defining political crimes and conditions for political prisoners, has been rejected by the conservative body which vets the country's legislation.

The Council of Guardians said the bill, which was drawn up by the reformist-dominated parliament last month, was in conflict with Iran's Islamic laws, and with the constitution.

The council took issue with 15 of the 24 clauses in the new bill.

A few of the objections were of a minor technical nature, where amendment might be possible.

But most of them were on key issues, which makes it highly unlikely that parliament will be able to re-submit the bill in any acceptable form.

There was disagreement over some aspects of defining political crime in the first place.

OPEN TRIALS

The bill also tried to insist that all political crimes should be tried in open court before a jury.

This was vetoed on the grounds that it would eliminate a special religious court, which has tried dissident clerics behind closed doors.

There was also disagreement over the fundamental role of a jury.

The bill said it should decide innocence or guilt, but the council ruled that it should simply advise the judge, who is currently all powerful in Iranian courts.

In the likely event of the council vetoing an amended version of this bill, the dispute would then go automatically to a third body, the Expediency Council, for arbitration.

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