French Lawyer: Iran Jews to Escape Death Penalty for 'Spying'
Iranian judicial authorities have assured a French lawyer that none of the 13 Jews currently on trial for allegedly spying for Israel will be sentenced to death, the lawyer told AFP Tuesday.
Pierre Dunac, one of two French lawyers granted visas to go to the southern city of Shiraz for the trial, said, "There will be no death penalty. I have been given assurances to this effect. It's a certainty."
Dunac and his colleague Stephane Zerbib, both sent to Iran by the human rights group Lawyers Without Borders, had a lengthy meeting Monday with the spokesman for the Shiraz judiciary, Hossein-Ali Amiri, and other officials whom they did not name.
Amiri told reporters covering the closed-door trial Monday that espionage did not necessarily carry the death penalty.
Eight of the nine defendants who have so far appeared before the court have confessed to spying for Israel, Iran's arch-enemy. In most cases their confessions have been repeated on television, to the anger of defense lawyers who say the admissions are not backed up by real evidence.
Dunac said he and Zerbib would try once more to gain access to the court room for Wednesday's hearing. They were barred Monday for "state security" reasons.
He said that their talks with Iranian officials had been a step forward, "despite the risks of manipulation."
US JEWS TRY TO BLOCK $200M. IN AID TO IRAN
US Jewish groups are leading an effort to persuade the World Bank to postpone the transfer of $200 million in aid to Iran, as part of efforts to ensure a fair trial of 13 Jews charged with espionage, reported Reuters Tuesday.
The package, which is to fund Iranian sewage and rural development programs, is scheduled to be discussed by World Bank leaders on Thursday, a day after the trial's proceedings are expected to conclude.
"We have gotten quite a bit of support from Canada, the US, and others. We've not asked it to be cancelled, just that it be delayed," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
An Iranian judiciary official said yesterday that the 13 Jews, meeting under cover of their faith, had been collecting military and other sensitive information to pass to Israel for more than 15 years.
In the first detailed account of the accusations against Iranian Jews now on trial in Shiraz, Hossein Ali Amiri described a well organized ring that had wooed informants with wild parties, mapped military bases and even laid plans to contaminate the city's water supply.
Amiri, head of the local judiciary, told Reuters the state had overwhelming evidence to corroborate the confessions of eight suspects in closed-door hearings – (Several Sources)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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