February 17, 2011 / 5:08 PM / 7 years ago

Iran opposition chiefs face prosecution: official

<p>A man uses his shoe to hit a poster of reformist opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi during the funeral of Sanee Zhaleh, a student who was shot dead during an opposition rally on Monday, in Tehran February 16, 2011. The writing on the poster of Mousavi reads: "The killers of our brother should be tried" and the sign on the immediate left reads: "We are with the Supreme Leader until our martyrdom".Stringer</p>

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Opposition leaders will be prosecuted for seeking to undermine Iran's Islamic revolution after protests in which two people died, the head of the judiciary said Thursday, state television reported.

Monday's rallies in Tehran and other cities, inspired by uprisings that toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt, were the first big opposition protests since the authorities crushed demonstrations following a disputed 2009 presidential election.

Dozens of people were wounded and many more arrested in the demonstrations, banned by the authorities, which were called by opposition leaders Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi in support of uprisings in the Arab world.

Government supporters and opponents clashed Wednesday at the funeral of Sanee Zhaleh, who was killed during Monday's rally, though both sides have claimed he backed their cause.

"The betrayal by the leaders of this sedition is obvious ... and the Islamic system will not tolerate any person harming the revolution," said judiciary chief Sadeq Larijani.

"Definitely they will be prosecuted."

Hardline Iranian lawmakers urged the judiciary Tuesday to impose death sentences on Karoubi and Mousavi for what they said was fomenting unrest.

Karoubi said Wednesday he was ready to "pay the price" for his actions but analysts believe any such against prominent opposition figures would only exacerbate tensions inside Iran.

Mousavi's and Karoubi's calls to protest have been posted on their websites and Larijani indicated the authorities would clamp down on this, though he did not elaborate.


Opposition supporters plan another rally Sunday in commemoration of the victims of Monday's violence, Mousavi's website Kaleme said.

Tehran's Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi has warned opposition supporters that they face a firm response if they defy the authorities and rally, the students' news agency ISNA reported.

State-organized nationwide demonstrations will be held on Friday in an effort by the authorities to demonstrate popular support for the clerical establishment.

Opposition websites have also called on supporters to chant "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) at night, in a defiant sign that the pro-reform movement remains alive despite mounting pressure on its leaders.

The cry, embraced by opponents of Iran's last Shah who was deposed by the Islamic revolution in 1979, was adopted by the pro-reform movement during protests against the disputed 2009 presidential election result.

Writing by Reza Derakhshi and Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Jon Boyle

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