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Iran Guard Wants Former President, Moderates Tried

Mehdi Karrubi at a rally in Tehran in June
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards has said that opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi, a defeated presidential candidate, and a former president should be tried for inciting unrest after a disputed presidential poll.

The June 12 presidential election plunged Iran into its biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, exposed deepening divisions in its ruling elite and set off a wave of protests that left 26 people dead.

"If Musavi, [defeated candidate Mehdi] Karrubi, and [former President Mohammad] Khatami are main suspects behind the soft revolution in Iran, which they are, we expect the judiciary ... to go after them, arrest them, put them on trial, and punish them," said Yadollah Javan, a senior Guard commander, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Protests gripped Tehran and other cities after the vote, which moderates say was rigged to secure the re-election of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, but officials say it was the "healthiest" vote in the past 30 years.

State media say at least 26 people were killed and hundreds arrested in postelection violence.

In an attempt to calm widespread anger, Iran jailed the head of the Kahrizak detention center after at least three people died in custody in the southern Tehran prison as the judiciary held trials of detainees arrested over postelection unrest.

"The head of the center has been sacked and jailed. Three policemen who beat detainees have been jailed as well," IRNA quoted Iran's police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam as saying.

Kahrizak was built for jailing violators of Iran's vice laws. A police statement issued on August 6 confirmed that serious violations took place at Kahrizak.

Ahmadi-Moghaddam also confirmed that some postelection detainees had been tortured in Kahrizak prison, which Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered closed in July for "lack of necessary standards" to preserve the rights of prisoners.

Moderate websites reported the death of at least three protesters in Kahrizak, including the son of a top adviser to conservative defeated presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaie.

After Mohsen Ruholamini's death in Kahrizak, Iran's top judge Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi ordered his envoys to visit all "prisons and detention centers."

The center became the source of even more controversy when two more Kahrizak detainees later died in hospital.

Uproot Unrest

Authorities say the voter unrest detainees have been transferred to Tehran's Evin prison, where many political prisoners are held.

They also say some 200 postelection protesters remain imprisoned, including senior pro-reform politicians, journalists, activists, and lawyers.

Iranian prosecutor Qorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi said all necessary legal measures would be taken against those "who had violated the law" in Kahrizak, the "Etemad-e Melli" newspaper reported.

Leading moderates including Musavi and Khatami have called for the immediate release of detainees, saying their confessions were made under duress.

In an attempt to uproot the opposition and to end street protests, Iran held two mass trials of moderates, including several prominent figures charged with offenses that included acting against national security by fomenting voter unrest.

An Iranian Revolutionary Court on August 8 charged a French woman, two Iranians working for the British and French embassies in Tehran, and dozens of others with spying and assisting a Western plot to overthrow the system of clerical rule.

Espionage and acting against national security are punishable by death under Iran's Islamic law.

Musavi and Karrubi say Ahmadinejad's next government will be illegitimate, defying Khamenei, who formally endorsed Ahmadinejad on August 3.

A group of hard-line lawmakers plans to file a complaint against Musavi for being "the driving force behind the voter turmoil," Iranian media reported. Such a move may trigger street protests.

Ahmadinejad was sworn in by parliament on August 5 and has until August 19 to name his cabinet.