WITNESS IN MILITARY COURT MENACED KILLING NASER ZARAFSHAN

PARIS 3 Nov. (IPS) A prominent Iranian lawyer was condemned to 48 hours preventive jail Saturday after he was menaced by a witness to be "thrown out of the window" or "be killed if he get out of the courtroom" during a closed doors trial in a military court.

Mr. Mohammad Ali Jedari-Forooqi, the lawyer for Mr. Naser Zarafshan, himself the lawyer of some of the families of the victims of the 1998 "chain murders" revealed the bizarre, if not unbelievable incident in an interview with the Persian service of Radio France Internationale (RFI).

The "chain murders" refers to the savage murder of five prominent politicians and intellectuals, including Mr. Dariush Foroohar, the charismatic leader of the secular Iranian People’s Party and his wife Parvaneh Eskandari, Mohammad Ja’far Pooyandeh and Mohammad Mokhtari, Majid Sharif and Pirooz Davani by high-ranking officers of the Intelligence Ministry of the Islamic Republic.

Though some of the murderers had been arrested and given various prison terms, but the authorities failed to identify the very persons who ordered the assassinations, widely blamed on regime’s highest clerics.

Accused of possessing firearms and related ammunitions, alcoholic beverages at his office, disclosing secret information and propaganda against the Islamic Republic, the outspoken Mr. Zarafshan was sentenced last December to a one year suspended jail by a special military court.

Agents of the military court who had raided his office four days after the first verdict found the incriminating materials. Charges of propaganda against the regime were added latter.

"We had decided not to make any statement concerning the trial but we changed out decision after a witness, recognised to be of the agents who had searched Mr. Zarafshan’s office appeared in court, bringing new charges against my client", Mr. Jedari-Forooqi said.

"Upon Mr. Zarafshan protested to the declarations made by this witness and observed that he is an agent of the court, the man erupted in anger shouting "I’ll throw you out of the windows" and then: "I’ll kill you as soon as you go out of this place", he added.

"On my request, the menaces proffered by the said agent against Mr. Zarafshan were recorded, but at the end of the séance, I discovered with astonishment that both men had been given a 48 hours confinement, something I had never seen in my entire 27 years carrier as lawyer", Mr. Jedari-Forooqi observed.

In a statement published in Paris, Dr. Karim Lahiji, president of the Iranian League for Defence of Human Rights said the trial of Mr Zarafshan is both illegal and against the Iranian Constitution and called for an open trial, in a civilian court with the presence of independent observers and jurists.

According to Mr. Lahiji, Mr. Zarafshan is guilty of revealing some chilling aspects of the "chain murders", manipulation o the documents by the authorities and indications of who might have been behind the assassination of not only five, "but more than hundred" of Iranian intellectuals, scholars, politicians and journalists during the eight years of Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s presidency. ENDS ZARAFSHAN TRIAL 31101