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Iran hardliners want Mousavi prosecuted

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A group of hardline Iranian members of parliament want the judiciary to prosecute defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi over post-election unrest that rocked the Islamic Republic last month.

Iran's presidential election candidate Mirhossein Mousavi waves at the end of his news conference in Tehran June 12, 2009. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

“Those who hold illegal rallies and gatherings should be legally pursued,” MP Mohammad Taghi Rahbar was quoted as saying by the hardline Javan newspaper on Thursday.

It said Rahbar was among several MPs preparing to write to the judiciary complaining about Mousavi’s activities after the disputed June 12 election. It did not say how many lawmakers backed the petition.

In another sign of mounting hardline pressure, state television said a student branch of the pro-government Basij militia, which helped police suppress pro-Mousavi street protests, had urged the attorney-general to take him to court.

Basij students accused him of “inciting his supporters to take to the streets to stage protests” and “undermining national security,” English-language Press TV said on its website.

The authorities have blamed Mousavi, a moderate former prime minister who says the poll was rigged in favor of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for violence in which at least 20 people were killed. Mousavi says the authorities were responsible for the bloodshed.

Hardline Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami urged the judiciary on Friday to charge the leading “rioters” as “mohareb,” or people who wage war against God.

Mousavi and another losing candidate, pro-reform cleric Mehdi Karoubi, again denounced the election result on Wednesday and said Ahmadinejad’s next cabinet would be illegitimate.

Although hardliners have appeared to be in the driving seat since security forces overcame street protests that erupted in the days after the poll, Mousavi and Karoubi have not yielded.

Despite their defiance, analysts say they have few practical options after Iran’s top legislative body on Monday certified results showing Ahmadinejad had won re-election by a landslide.

The clerical leadership is likely to ignore the reformers and keep backing Ahmadinejad, who enjoys the public support of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s top authority.

Iran has accused foreign powers, especially Britain and the United States, of inciting the anti-government protests and of plotting to undermine the Islamic state with help of people inside the country. London and Washington reject the charges.

The semi-official Fars news agency said seven people linked to “anti-revolutionary” groups had been arrested because they had been “actively involved in riots and unrest” in Tehran and the northwestern city of Qazvin.

Iran’s police chief said on Wednesday 1,032 people had been detained during the protests in Tehran, but most had been freed.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said on Tuesday reports from within Iran indicated that as many as 2,000 people, including opposition leaders, professors, journalists, students and protesters may be in detention across the country.

Mousavi on Wednesday called on the authorities to release detained “children of the revolution,” a reference to scores of leading reformist political figures arrested since the poll.

Officials reject charges of election fraud, saying it was Iran’s “healthiest” vote since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Reporting by Parisa Hafezi and Fredrik Dahl; editing by Alistair Lyon