|Payvand Iran News, August 1, 2009|
| Photos by Amir Kholoosi, ISNA; Report by VOA News |
About 100 Iranian activists and political moderates went on trial Saturday to face charges related to massive protests following the controversial presidential election.
The semi-official Fars news agency published images of defendants sitting in a packed Tehran courtroom, some handcuffed in pairs.
The IRNA news agency says the detainees are accused of conspiring against the ruling system, among other charges.
Reports say some leading political figures on trial have retracted their claims that the June vote was rigged – the main rallying point of opposition demonstrators.
Fars reports reformist former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi said claims about vote violations in the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were baseless.
Meanwhile, Abtahi’s lawyer, Salih Nikbakht, told VOA Kurdish service he was not told about the trial before it started, and says he was barred from entering the courtroom when he arrived.
U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch says some prominent lawyers were arrested over past weeks to prevent them from representing activists in court.
The group says authorities have used harsh interrogations and beatings in an effort to extract false confessions from detainees.
According to Fars, some of the major politicians appearing in court Saturday are former parliament vice-speaker Behzad Nabavi and former government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh. The full list of defendants is not known.