Former Iranian vice-president sentenced to six years; released on bail pending appeal

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Protests following presidential elections in Iran (June 2009)
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Former Iranian vice-president Mohammed Ali Abtahi has been released on bail pending appeal after being sentenced to six years in prison on Saturday for his part in the protests following the presidential elections in June.

"Abtahi was sentenced to six years in prison for acting against national security and propaganda activity," an anonymous court official told the INSA news agency. According to the agency, he was released on bail set at seven billion rials (US$700 thousand (472 thousand)); under Iranian law, all convictions of a minimum of three months are subject to appeal and bail may be granted for the first twenty days to allow anyone sentenced to lodge one. "Abtahi was released this afternoon after he paid the bail amount," Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi told IRNA.

Abtahi, who was as a minister and vice-president under President Mohammad Khatami from 1997 to 2005, is amongst thousands who were arrested following protests; two hundred still behind bars of which around eighty have been sentenced to jail and a further five to death. He has remained in custody ever since his arrest. He was convicted of various charges, including "gathering and plotting against the country's security, propaganda against the regime, insulting the president and participating in an illegal demonstration." He also faces further charges of "keeping classified documents."

Opposition critics have called the prosecutions "laughable show trials" and spoken of "forced confessions". They have called for the unconditional release of prisoners. On Friday, a United Nations committee passed a vote to approve a non-binding resolution which condemns Iran for its reaction to the protests following the election, criticising Iran's record on human rights, highlighting torture and executions. The committee has also called on the Iranian government to stop persecuting its political opponents and release political prisoners.

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