Iran: Anti-govt protesters facing trial in Tehran

Tehran, 15 Jan. (AKI) – Iran is preparing to try 16 people who were arrested during anti-government protests that turned violent last month, an Iranian news agency said on Friday. The semi-official Fars News Agency did not identify the detainees who are facing trial, but said one was accused of “moharebeh” – an Islamic term meaning waging war against God – that carried the death sentence.

The others were accused of gathering with the intention of disrupting national security and propaganda activities against the Islamic establishment, Fars said.

Eight people were killed in clashes between security forces and supporters of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi on Ashura, the Shia mourning ritual, on 27 December.

Hundreds of people, including several opposition figures, were also detained in December in a fresh wave of opposition arrests since June’s disputed presidential election.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected in the poll, but his opponents believe the election was rigged.

In a statement this week human rights group, Amnesty International, urged the Iranian authorities not to sentence to death protesters arrested during the religious festival last month.

Amnesty said at least five demonstrators arrested during the Ashura protest have been charged with “moharebeh”.

The authorities have said that “rioting and arson” amounts to moharebeh, a criminal offence usually used against those who take up arms against the state.