Iran opposition leader offers to stand trial for 2009 election unrest

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[JURIST] Iranian opposition leader Mahdi Karroubi [BBC profile] on Monday publicly invited the government to put him on trial [ report, in Persian] for the civil unrest and violence that erupted in the wake of the hotly disputed 2009 re-election [JURIST news archive] of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Karroubi said his only request is that the trial be open and fair, a challenge that could galvanize reformers and opposition to Ahmadinejad’s rule. Many believed Ahmadinejad’s victory over Hossein Mousavi [BBC profile] was achieved by fraud, leading to a rash of protests and outbreaks of violence [JURIST report] that resulted in hundreds of arrests. After opposition activity subsided, the government refrained from trying Mousavi and other opposition leaders who called for continuing protests [JURIST report]. However, Iranian chief prosecutor said Friday that he intends to prosecute opposition leaders [JURIST report], including Mousavi, Karoubi and former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami [BBC profile]. Dolataabadi’s remarks echoed those made in a speech delivered the previous day by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei [BBC profile] at a pro-government rally.

Karroubi and the other three leaders could join a long line of individuals detained or already prosecuted for their roles during the election protests. In September, Shiva Nazar Ahari, a journalist arrested after the 2009 elections, was sentenced to six years in prison [JURIST report] for charges including “warring against God” and distributing anti-government propaganda. Also in September, Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent Iranian human rights lawyer known for representing political activists following the 2009 election, was detained for allegedly spreading propaganda and colluding against national security [JURIST report]. In August, an Iranian court sentenced Qorban Behzadianejad, Mousavi’s campaign manager, to five years in prison [JURIST report]. The Iranian government detained hundreds of protesters and sentenced several to death [JURIST report]. Khamenei pardoned or commuted the sentences of 81 protesters [JURIST report] in June.

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