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Iran's Karrubi Says Time Not Right For Reconciliation

Mehdi Karrubi (right) finished fourth according to official figures from the June presidential election.
PARIS (Reuters) -- Iranian opposition figure Mehdi Karrubi, under investigation over his claims that protesters were raped in jail, has accused hard-liners of trying to silence him and said prospects for reconciliation were poor.

Iran's judiciary launched a legal case against the pro-reform cleric after he said some people held in protests following a disputed election in June were abused and raped, but Karrubi said in a newspaper interview he had done nothing wrong.

Asked in today's edition of French paper "Le Monde" whether national reconciliation was still imaginable, he said: "The option is good and reasonable, and wise people on both sides are not against it."

But he said a lot of groundwork needed to be done before such a rapprochement would be possible.

"At the moment, the conditions are not there: certain people don't want to yield at all, and hold on to everything.... We have to work on restoring confidence between the people and authorities. Some fundamentalists, the more moderate ones, share this view but unfortunately they don't have a lot of power."

Today, Iranian police in Tehran again clashed with opposition demonstrators seeking to renew their challenge to the government.

Karrubi, who came fourth in the June poll, has said the ballot was rigged to secure President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's reelection. Officials reject the charge.

Some of Karrubi's allies and advisers have been arrested, but he said he did not fear being investigated for his statements about the alleged prison abuse.

"Fortunately, I know from people who have been freed that after my protest letters the situation improved," he said, adding he had not heard of more sexual abuse.

He said he had handed the judiciary evidence to open an investigation into the abuse claims.

"The problem is that the hardliners have repeatedly tried to create a climate of hate to harm me, but their efforts are purely political, there is nothing legal in there," he said.