Iran General NewsIran military says opposition chiefs should face trial

Iran military says opposition chiefs should face trial

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ImageAFP: A top official with Iran's Revolutionary Guards called on Sunday for the main opposition leaders to be put on trial for trying to orchestrate a "velvet coup" after the disputed presidential election.

By Hiedeh Farmani

ImageTEHRAN (AFP) — A top official with Iran's Revolutionary Guards called on Sunday for the main opposition leaders to be put on trial for trying to orchestrate a "velvet coup" after the disputed presidential election.

Yadollah Javani said former president Mohammad Khatami and defeated challengers Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi should be prosecuted over the crisis that has gripped Iran since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election in June.

Javani, head of the Revolutionary Guards' political bureau, said a plot to topple the 30-year-old Islamic regime through a "velvet coup" has been exposed.

"The question is who were the main planners and agents of this coup. What is the role of Khatami, Mousavi and Karroubi in this coup?" he wrote in Sobh-e Sadegh, the Guards' weekly journal.

"If they are the main agents, which is the case, judiciary and security officials should go after them, arrest them, try them and punish them."

Mousavi and his supporters have refused to accept Ahmadinejad's landslide victory in the June 12 vote, saying it was the result of massive rigging, and setting off the worst crisis since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets after the vote and in the ensuing violence about 30 people were killed, hundreds wounded and several thousand initially arrested.

Iran's police chief said on Sunday that protesters who died at a detention centre ordered closed last month had succumbed to a viral disease, and denied they were beaten to death.

Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam said the detainees at Kahrizak south of Tehran "did not die of beatings but were killed due to a viral disease," the ILNA news agency reported. It did not specify the number of deaths.

Iran has put on trial about 110 people over the election unrest, including British and French embassy staff and a French woman lecturer, and accused foreign governments of plotting to destabilise the country.

Masoud Jazayeri, deputy chief of staff of Iran's armed forces, also said plotters should be dealt with and called for "more control" on foreign embassies to deter "colour coups."

"Iranian citizens… are waiting to see how the agents of this recent plot will be confronted," the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

On Saturday, Hossein Rassam, political analyst at the British embassy in Tehran, appeared in the dock along with French lecturer Clotilde Reiss, and Franco-Iranian Nazak Afshar, who works for French embassy's cultural section.

The trial — the latest crackdown by the authorities against the opposition — provoked outrage in London, and the European Union's Swedish presidency said it was an act against the entire 27-nation bloc.

Rassam was one of nine local British embassy employees detained in the aftermath of the election and has been charged with spying.

He told the revolutionary court in Tehran he had been instructed by his superiors to monitor the protests for the British government, according to local press reports. Foreign media were barred from covering the trial.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he was "deeply concerned by the unjustified charges" against the analyst who had been "going about his legitimate duties."

The French foreign ministry called for the "immediate release" of Afshar and of Reiss, who has been accused of "collecting information and provoking rioters," and sending reports on the protests to the French embassy.

"Actions against one EU country, citizen or embassy staff is considered an action against all of the EU, and will be treated accordingly," the Swedish EU presidency said.

Iran's hardline press again blamed Britain for the post-election turmoil.

"The British embassy: headquarters for the coup command," read the front-page headline of the government newspaper Iran.

"London, the command room of street riots in Tehran, with Washington and Tel Aviv's cooperation," echoed leading hardline newspaper Kayhan.

The paper, whose director is appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, charged that British diplomats were in "constant contact" with the Mousavi campaign.

Khamenei himself pointed an accusing finger at London over the unrest, describing it as the most "most evil" of Iran's enemies.

But the opposition has dismissed the charges of foreign meddling, saying the election protest is a grassroots homegrown movement by Iranians demanding their "stolen votes."

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