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Reformists Detained In Iran Unrest Go On Trial

Former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi is among the defendants.

Former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi is among the defendants.

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Several prominent moderates arrested shortly after Iran's disputed June presidential election have gone on trial on charges of fomenting unrest, Iranian media reported.

"The trial of some of those accused of being involved in post-election unrest started this morning," Fars news agency reported on August 1.

Those on trial included prominent reformers such as former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, former Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Aminzadeh, former government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh, former senior lawmaker Mohsen Mirdamadi, and former Industry Minister Behzad Nabavi, Fars reported.

Iranian media have reported that some of those detained were accused of acting against national security, a common charge against dissenting voices in Iran. They could even face the death penalty.

The June 12 vote plunged Iran into its biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution and exposed deepening divisions in its ruling elite.

Moderate defeated presidential candidates Mir Hossein Musavi and Mehdi Karrubi say the vote was rigged in favor of hardline President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. The authorities deny the charge and Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has endorsed Ahmadinejad's re-election.

On July 30, thousands of pro-reform demonstrators gathered to mourn those killed in post-election unrest, in a show of defiance of the authorities upholding Ahmadinejad's victory. Riot police fired tear gas and arrested some protesters.

A police official told the semi-official ILNA news agency the following day that 50 protesters had been arrested but said "many of them have been released later."

Rights groups say hundreds of people, including senior pro-reform politicians, journalists, activists, and lawyers, have been detained in Iran since the election.

Iran's top judge, Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahroudi, has ordered the judiciary to follow the cases of detained protesters.