Iran Press Service


Shiraz (Fars Province) 25th June (IPS)

Head of Justice Department of Fars Province Hojjatoleslam Hosseinali Amiri announced Saturday the end to the legal proceedings in the case of 13 Iranian Jews accused of espionage for Israel "following the receipt of the last response to court query".

Speaking to the official news agency IRNA, Mr. Amiri said that on decision taken by the judge who handles this case -- under Islamic laws, the positions of the judge, the prosecutor and the court president are assumed by the same man -- and according to the public and revolutionary tribunals laws, the court ruling in the case will be issued within a week after the announcement of the end of legal proceedings for 17 Jews and Muslims accused of spying.

As usual, his latest statement was confusing and contradictory, since in the same interview, he has put the number of the accused in the controversial case at 17 and "more than 17", adding that in order to "observe the rights" of the detainees, the judge had decided to issue the ruling for the accused whose case is complete''.

But observers noted that according to official sources, there are together 13 Jews and eight Muslim accused of espionage for Israel, making 21 people in jail or out of prison but on bail.

In an earlier statement, Mr. Amiri had assured that none of the accused would be executed giving the fact that they have not committed any offence labelled as "moharebeh", a Koranic expression meaning fighting God.

The trial of the accused, most of them ordinary people engaged in religious activities, some of them teachers of Torah, Synagogue servants, butcher or university professors had began in Shiraz in April and within 10 sessions, all held behind closed doors without the presence of the press, witnesses and families except of their lawyers.

According to the authorities, nine of the Jews had confessed during interviews with the State-run Radio and Television that is directly controlled by the conservative leader of the Islamic regime, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, of having provided Mosad, Israel's Intelligence service classified information and having links with the Jewish State that is not recognised by the Islamic Republic.

The process was denounced by the defendants main lawyer, Mr. Esma'il Naseri who, on every occasion, accused the Television of have erected itself as a "field tribunal" for the accused, observing that the so-called confessions had been obtained under dubious conditions, that, after 15 month of solitary detention, the detainees had lost notion, not knowing what they were accused of, ready to make any statement provided they are executed, as the Islam-based Iranian laws call for people condemned for espionage.

He denounced the state broadcasting monopoly for showing day after day on different channels taped confessions of his clients in the one hand and for being given access to the closed-door hearing on the other. He said the accused were in no position to give their assent willingly.

He once again reiterated that the confessions broadcast by the "Voice and Visage" (Radio and Television) of the Islamic Republic were "imposed" on the innocent detainees and obtained in jail, presenting no legal and sound base for accusation.

"This is not becoming of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to treat its citizens like slaves. State television is like a kangaroo court for the suspects, and their lawyers are not even allowed to protest this."

The 13 Jews were arrested secretly 16 months ago and imprisoned without the regime, nor the Iranian Jewish organisations saying anything until it was disclosed in France, creating immediately an international uproar against the Iranian Mullahrchy.

Caught red handed and off guard, the Iranian clerical authorities started a series of childish gesticulations, first saying the arrested men were involved in espionage for both Israel and the United States, passing highly classified information on economic, social and military situation of Iran to enemies via Turkish intermediaries.

But when ridiculed by local and international media that observed that in the age of cellular phones, e-mail and internet, one does not need to pass sensitive information via courier, the authorities changed scenario, dropped both Turkey and the United States, turning the heat on Israel.

When faced with international pressure, claiming that the men had been arrested because of their faith, the regime, rejecting the accusation, suddenly revealed that there were also eight Muslims collaborators working also for Israel, belonging to the same secret espionage network created by Mosad, adding that Israel was "abusing" the religion of the Jews to obtain sensitive information.

However, though the identities of the Jews had been disclosed, nothing is known about the Muslim spies only that they were free but on bail.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi dismissed outside interference in the case, telling reporters Iran was well within its rights to hold a closed hearing, given the sensitivity of the charges.

"We have no interest in seeing other countries meddle in our internal affairs, and I don't think such interference will have any effect on the course of this trial," Kharrazi said.

Mr. Naseri said at the final hearing that the court had no "just" course but to find his clients not guilty.

More over, during cross-examination, some of the prisoners retrieved their earlier statements, admitting that they had made the confessions under pressure and threat.

"The final defence cross-examination had exposed numerous inconsistencies in the testimony of the nine suspects who have admitted some sort of collaboration with Israel", Mr. Naseri told reporters outside the court.

The 10th has asserted his complete innocence.

"We managed to prove in the majority of cases ... that because of conflicts in the confessions, they are shrouded in doubt and thus have no legal value," IRNA quoted Mr. Naseri.

"If the court intends to act in a just manner, it has no choice but to find the defendants innocent and release them. But if it intends to play politics, then there is nothing we can do but appeal", he added.

It was not immediately clear when a verdict would be issued in the high-profile case, although both sides predicted it was a matter of about two weeks. JEWS TRIAL 25600


<- back to home page

Iran Press Service
Iran Press Service
Editor-in-Chief: Safa Haeri
Tel: +33 1 43805838
Fax: +33 1 43805825

Copyright © 2000, IRAN PRESS SERVICE, all rights reserved.