Iran’s Guardian Council Rejects Bill Calling for Civilian Trials for Political Suspects
Iran’s Guardian Council, the country's top constitutional watchdog, has rejected a bill passed by the Parliament that calls for trying political suspects in regular civil courts rather than revolutionary courts, according to the Iranian official news agency (IRNA).
It said the council, dominated by conservatives, rejected the bill as being "unconstitutional,” and remanded it to the reformist-controlled Parliament on Wednesday.
Late last month, deputies overwhelmingly approved a draft of the bill, proposed by reformist deputies backing re-elected President Mohammad Khatami, that requires a "political offense" to be heard by a panel of judges in regular trial courts and not by Islamic revolutionary courts or military tribunals.
Over 40 pro-reform newspapers have been closed down by the country's conservative-dominated courts since April last year, leading to the arrest and/or imprisonment of several dissidents and/or journalists, said the agency.
The bill, which would give a clearer definition of "political offenses" falling under "crimes against national security," would also require public trial of alleged offenders by a jury as provided for in the Iranian constitution.
Cases of this kind have in the past been heard by a single judge, sometimes in closed-door sessions – Albawaba.com
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