Saturday, November 21, 2009

U.S. Voices 'Concerns' as Five Sentenced to Death in Iran

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Agence France Presse (AFP)

The United States on Wednesday voiced concern over trials in Iran that led to death sentences for five people linked to protests over Iran's June presidential elections. "Iran needs to respect the rights of the Iranian people to peacefully express their ... opinions," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters. "We have had concerns about ... the way some of these trials have been conducted," he said, referring to mass trials. "We always have had concerns about Iran's adherence to an open, transparent, due process of law. And we continue to call on Iran to have an open ... judicial and legal process," Kelly said. In Tehran, Iranian state television's website said on Tuesday that five people arrested after Iran's disputed presidential election have been condemned to death and another 81 jailed, some for as long as 15 years.

The five sentenced to death were convicted of "having relations with or membership in anti-revolutionary, terrorist or opposition groups," it added. The verdicts are not final and can be appealed, the statement said, adding that the convicts will be identified after finalization of the decrees. Deadly street rallies broke out after its June 12 presidential vote, with protesters claiming Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election was rigged. About 4,000 people were arrested, and 140 of them, including senior reformers and journalists, were tried mass televised proceedings on charges of seeking a "soft" overthrow of the regime.