December 29, 2003

Prominent Iranian journalist gets one-year suspended

^By ALI AKBAR DAREINI=
^Associated Press Writer=
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ An investigative journalist who
accused a former Cabinet minister of murdering
dissidents has been convicted in the Revolutionary
Court and given a suspended sentence of one year's
imprisonment, his lawyer said Thursday.
Emadeddin Baqi, author of the book "Tragedy of
Democracy in Iran," was found guilty of campaigning
against the ruling Islamic establishment and working
in favor of opposition groups, said lawyer Saleh
Nikbakht.

Baqi condemned the trial Thursday, telling The
Associated Press he had received an "illegal verdict
issued after a two-minute, so-called closed-door
trial."
Judiciary officials could not be reached for comment
late Thursday, which is the beginning of the weekend
in Iran.
Baqi walked out of prison in February after serving
most of a three-year term for "insulting sanctities"
and "publishing falsehoods." Officials then warned him
he could face new charges relating to articles he
wrote before entering jail.
Baqi wrote for several pro-reform newspapers, which
were closed down by hard-line judges.
His trials and the newspaper bannings are part of a
power struggle between reformists and conservatives in
Iran. The reformists, who look to President Mohammad
Khatami, seek to liberalize the Islamic system whereas
the hard-liners, who look to supreme leader Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei, seek to uphold a strict theocracy.
Baqi said Thursday he was summoned to the Tehran
Revolutionary Court last month and told he was on
trail.
"My lawyer was not allowed in," he said. "There was
only a judge who didn't even identify himself. He
briefly read the charges against me without specifying
what. I still don't know why such charges have been
brought against me."
Baqi said he told the judge he considered the court
illegal and refused to defend himself.
On Thursday he was again summoned to the court and
received the verdict and sentence.
"What kind of a trial is it where there is no lawyer,
no jury, the judge is the prosecutor and the accused
is not even informed of the specific charges against
him?" he said to the AP.
Baqi said he viewed the suspended sentence as a
warning that he would be imprisoned for any more
criticism of hard-liners.
Lawyer Nikbakht told the AP he intended to appeal the
sentence even though Baqi did not want him to.
In his book, Baqi accused hard-line clerics, notably
former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian, of
murdering four dissidents in late 1998. Fallahian has
denied the allegation.
The Intelligence Ministry admitted its agents were
involved in the murders, but said they were rogue
operatives.
In 2001, a court convicted three former Intelligence
Ministry agents of the murders and condemned them to
death. Five other people were sentenced to life
imprisonment for lesser roles in the murders.
Many Iranian intellectuals and reformist politicians
believe the agents did not act on their own
initiatives. They accuse the government of failing to
get to the bottom of the affair.



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