1 Aug 2009

Trial begins of Iranian election protestors

10:59 pm on 1 August 2009

The first trial of people allegedly involved in post-election violence in Iran has begun.

Those arrested are charged with trying to topple the clerical establishment in the aftermath of the disputed June poll.

Iranian state media have listed charges including rioting, vandalism, "acting against national security", and conspiring against the ruling system.

Among the defendants are leading members of the opposition reform movement, including a former vice-president.

It is the first time since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution that dozens of senior officials have been put on trial.

The official IRNA news agency says the indictment also included participating in the "Velvet Revolution" and attacking military and state buildings.

Velvet Revolution was a term used to describe the non-violent 1989 revolution in Czechoslovakia which overturned communist rule.

Under Iran's Islamic law, acting against national security, a common charge against dissenting voices in Iran, could be punishable by the death penalty.

The 12 June vote plunged Iran into its biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution and exposed deep divisions in its ruling elite.

Rights groups say hundreds of people, including senior pro-reform politicians, journalists and lawyers, have been detained since the election.