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Iran: Parliament Speaker Demands Release Of Deputy

Tehran, 15 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Iran's parliament speaker says he will refrain from chairing parliamentary sessions until a reformist deputy is released from prison. Speaker Mehdi Karroubi today said in a speech to parliament that the Judiciary had "committed aggression against parliament" in imprisoning Hossein Loqmanian.

Loqmanian was imprisoned last month after being convicted of criticizing the Judiciary in a parliamentary speech.

Some 60 reformist deputies have been summoned to court to answer mainly political charges during the last two years. Four deputies have been sentenced, but Loqmanian is the first to be incarcerated in Iran's nearly 100-year parliamentary history.

Reformers say the actions by the Judiciary violate the constitution, which grants them immunity from prosecution. But the Judiciary insist it is up to the courts to decide whether parliamentary immunity exists or not.