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Iran's Khatami Says Trial Confessions Are 'Invalid'


Senior reformer Saeed Hajjarian during a hearing at the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on August 25.
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has said trial confessions by moderates accused of fomenting postelection unrest were made under "extraordinary conditions" and were invalid, the ILNA news agency reported.

At an August 25 trial, the fourth since June polls denounced by moderates as fraudulent, senior reformer and Khatami ally Saeed Hajjarian was reported as saying he had "made major mistakes during the election by presenting incorrect analyses."

"I apologize to the Iranian nation for those mistakes," he said.

A prosecutor demanded maximum punishment for Hajjarian accused of acting against national security, a crime which can carry the death sentence.

"These confessions are invalid and have been obtained under extraordinary conditions...such claims are sheer lies and false," leading reformist Khatami said, according to ILNA.

Also in the dock on August 25 were several prominent moderate figures, including former Deputy Interior Minister Mostafa Tajzadeh, business newspaper editor Saeed Laylaz, former Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Aminzadeh, and former government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh.

All were charged with fomenting huge street protests that followed the June presidential election that returned hard-liner Mahmud Ahmadinejad; some confessed to "mistakes."

Exposed Deep Divisions

The June 12 vote has plunged Iran into its most serious internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and has exposed deep divisions in the establishment's ruling elite.

Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh was also accused of acting against national security and espionage at the August 25 trial, charges likely to anger Washington.

Analysts see the trials as an attempt by the authorities to uproot the moderate opposition and put an end to street protests that erupted after the election.

Defeated moderate candidates Mir Hossein Musavi and Mehdi Karrubi say the vote was rigged to secure Ahmadinejad's reelection, a charge the authorities deny.

Karrubi has angered hard-liners by claiming some imprisoned protesters were raped and abused in jail, a charge government officials have rejected as "baseless."