IPS

ISLAMIC JUDGE CONFIRMS SEARCH OF BERLIN CONFERENCE HOMES

PARIS 14TH June (IPS)

Hojjatoleslam Hasan Moqqaddas of the Islamic Revolution Court who handles the case of Berlin Conference confirmed Wednesday that houses of six of those accused of participation in the Berlin meeting had been inspected, but denied charges by the pro-reformist daily "Bayan" that property had been confiscated during searches.

Teheran and foreign-based international broadcastings with services in Persian reported that the houses and offices of at least six people who attended the conference were searched and a lot of documents both work-related and personal were taken away.

Organised by the cultural Heinrisch Boll institute on early April to review the situation of the Islamic Republic in the aftermath of the victory of the reformists in the February Majles elections, the conference was badly marred by noisy protests from hundreds of Iranian political activists opposed to the present Iranian regime as well as refugee seekers.

Seventeen prominent reformists personalities of all walk, including journalists, lawyers, intellectuals, publishers, scholars and a cleric were invited by the Institute, acting on behalf of the German government with the aim to prepare the official visit of president Mohammad Khatami.

Because of some protesters expressed their opposition to the Islamic regime by taking off their clothes while keeping a black scarf, as imposed on Iranian women by the ruling clerics while others were dancing to the tune of sexy Iranian music now banned in the austere Islamic Republic, the conservatives, angered by their electoral defeat, took aim at the conference, accused the participants of "activities and propaganda against the security of the State' and ordered their arrests.

So far Mrs. Mehrangiz Kar, an outstanding secularist lawyer defending the cases of many dissident activists, Mrs. Shahla Lahiji, an independent Publisher, Mr. Alireza Afshar, the secretary of the Office of Strengthening the Union (OSU), Iranian students largest association and Mr. Akbar Ganji, a well known investigative journalist and political writer and political analyst have been send to jail while six others have been left free on bail and the rest still being in Europe.

Both Mrs. Monireh Ravanipour, a poet and writer and mr. Ezzatollah Sahhabi, the owner and Editor of the reformist bi-weekly "Iran Farda" told journalists that agents bearing court order presented to both their houses and offices and took away "everything fallen under their hands".

"They even took my personal telephone book", Mrs. Ravanipour told the Persian Service of the BBC. "They took away all our computers, diskettes, articles dating from 20 years ago, some of them printed", added Mr. Sahhabi speaking to the Persian service of the RFI (Radio France Internationale).

Also houses and offices of Mr. Ganji, already in jail and Alireza Alavi-Tabar, the Editor of the banned "Sobhe Emrouz" were searched and document seized.

"No properties except documents had been taken from the persons' houses during the search", Mr. Moqqaddas had assured the official news agency IRNA.

"Having realised the existence of documents and proofs at houses of the accused and the possibility of their transfer, the Revolution Court issued a search warrant", the investigating Judge added.

Under Islamic laws that prevails in Islamic Republic, the Judge, the prosecutor and the Court president are one same man.

Mr. Moqqaddas told IRNA that the court was studying the content of the documents and the evidence which were discovered, but he did not said what sort of incriminating document he was after nor how documents related to a conference could constitute a criminal charge.

Officials at both the Heinrisch Boll Stiftung and German Foreign Ministry were preparing the conference months in advance and in collaboration with the Iranian government.

"Everyone knew we were going to this meeting in Germany as newspapers had written about it. No one ever had warned us against going to this conference. We came out of Iran normally, passed through passport and custom controls at the airport", observed Mrs. Ravanipour.

Mr. Moqqaddass said the accused had objected but that the appeals court had rejected their protest and withheld the court's ruling.

He said as the investigation had reached the conclusion that some of the accused could be in possession of devices and tools of guilt relevant to the Berlin Conference, therefore search order was issued.

But observers, including Mr. Reza Alijani, editor in chief of the banned "Iran Farda" say though the conservatives knows well that the whole issue is a badly fabricated farce and despite the fact that their initial goal by creating this case did not materialised, yet, by "pushing" the Berlin Conference case, the badly defeated and humiliated conservatives were "keeping their cheeks reddish by slapping themselves".

According to the Mr. Moqqaddas, twenty people were prosecuted in connection with the Berlin Conference, five of then being jailed and the rest released on bail.

Concerning the detainees, he said not only there are "stronger evidences" pointing to their guilt but also more charges have been brought up against them.

But he did not emphasised.

Professor Changiz Pahlavan, an expert on Central Asia is now teaching in some German universities and Mr. Kazem Kordavani, an intellectual and Hojjatoleslam Hasan Yousefi Eshkevari, an Islamic reformist are both in Paris.

A cleric, Mr. Eshkevari has been summoned by the controversial Clergymen's Special Tribunal, an instance that the accused considers as illegal.

Mr. Moqqaddas reiterated that the charges brought up against those who took part at the Berlin Conference are of acts against national security by making propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran. ENDS BERLIN CONF 14600
 


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