Iran’s reformist former president Mohammad Khatami lashed out yesterday at the trial of 100 people accused of rioting after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election, putting him at loggerheads with hardliners who accuse him of “treason.”
Khatami’s strongly worded declaration underscored the escalating feud between rival factions in the Islamic republic, which is battling the worst crisis in its 30-year history over the June election.
About 100 people were put on trial before a revolutionary court in Tehran on Saturday on charges including rioting, vandalism, having ties with counter-revolutionary groups and plotting to launch a “velvet revolution.”
“What was done yesterday is against the Constitution, regular laws and rights of the citizens,” Khatami’s office quoted him as telling a group of political activists and lawmakers.
Khatami, who served two terms as president before being succeeded by Ahmadinejad in 2005, said the court had relied on “confessions taken under certain circumstances which are not valid.”
“The most important problem with the trial procedure is that it was not held in an open session. The lawyers and the defendants were not informed of the contents of the cases ahead of the trial,” the charismatic cleric said.
But in a major blow to the opposition, Saturday’s closed-door trial saw a dramatic climbdown by some top reformists, including Khatami aides, who said Ahmadinejad’s June 12 election victory was clean.
About 2,000 protesters, reformists, political activists and journalists were initially detained by authorities in a crackdown on the massive public protests over the vote, which Mousavi has branded a “shameful fraud.”
About 30 people were killed and hundreds wounded in the unrest.
Most protesters have been released, but about 250 still remain behind bars.
Meanwhile, Iran said on Saturday that three Americans who “infiltrated” from Iraq had been arrested, as Washington sought confirmation that the individuals were backpackers who reportedly strayed across the border.
“An informed Iranian source confirmed the arrest of three Americans after they infiltrated through the Iraqi border,” the Arabic-language Al-Alam station reported. Another state channel said they were military personnel.
The US, which does not have diplomatic ties with the Islamic republic, said it has asked Switzerland, which represents its interests in Tehran, to confirm the Iranian reports.
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