Storm chasers brave danger and debris as they try to capture photos of tornadoes' destructive power. Slideshow
Iran top judge rejects "political" hanging pressure
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's top judge said on Monday he would not succumb to political pressure from hardliners to carry out more executions against anti-government protesters, saying any such decision would be based on the law.
Iran hanged two people last week in connection with unrest that erupted after last year's disputed June presidential vote. The hangings were condemned by human rights groups and the West, which Iran accuses of backing the opposition.
"These demands (by hardliners) are political in nature and are against the law and Sharia," Sadeq Larijani was quoted as saying on the judiciary's official website Dadsara.
Some hardliners, including an influential cleric, have urged the judiciary to execute more opposition supporters to end the demonstrations which continued on-and-off despite a government crackdown and a wave of arrests.
Larijani, however, did not rule out further executions of those who "harm the Islamic establishment."
"In reviewing detainees' cases, we will only consider the law and Islamic Sharia law (which Iran implements since its 1979 Islamic revolution)," he said.
The two were accused of being part of an anti-revolutionary group that had planned to plant bombs and assassinate officials to create tension in Iran on election day and afterwards. Death sentences against nine others are at the appeal stage.
Opposition leaders Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, who also contested the vote, condemned the hangings, calling on their supporters to attend a rally on February 11, when the country marks the 31st anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution.
President Ahmadinejad said Iranians would "disappoint the enemies completely on the anniversary day," state television reported on Monday.
Hardliners have warned that they will not tolerate any more anti-government protests after the bloody demonstrations during the Shi'ite ritual of Ashura on December 27, when eight protesters were killed and officials said over 1,000 were arrested.
In a statement on Monday, Iranian Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi condemned the growth of violence in the country and urged protestors and authorities to adopt peaceful ways.
"We are a peaceful nation which should now pursue its dissatisfactions, criticisms, opposition and protests by peaceful means and completely avoid violence," Ebadi said in a statement, according to the opposition Jaras website.
"We are against the continuation of violence in society... and we strongly want a stop to violence," the statement added.
The trial of 16 people arrested on Ashura day began on Saturday. Iran's interior minister warned opposition activists on January 5 they risked execution as "enemies of God" if they continued demonstrations.
Despite threats, the opposition has shown no sign of backing down seven months after the vote, which it says was rigged to secure Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election. Authorities deny that.
Opposition websites have urged people to stage fresh anti-government rallies on February 11, when confrontations are expected to intensify.
Larijani, echoing hardliners, also warned the opposition against committing national security offences.
"The judiciary will not compromise with those who are 'mohareb' (enemies of God), trying to harm our national security. We will strongly confront them," the chief justice said.
(Editing by Paul Taylor)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this