Iranian Official: Appeals Court Divided on Charges against Jews
A three-judge appeals court, reviewing the jail terms of 10 Iranian Jews convicted of spying for Israel, is divided on whether all the charges constituted crimes, a senior judicial official was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.
The main charges on which a lower court convicted the 10 were "espionage, cooperating with the Zionist regime and participation in an illegal group."
"But now, the appeals court judges are studying whether or not each of these charges is a legal violation," Hossein Ali Amiri, the judiciary chief of southern Fars province where the men were tried, said.
Defense lawyers had argued during the trial that there is no definition or punishment for espionage under Iranian law.
"Three experienced judges have so far reviewed the case ... but they have some differences about the number of charges," Amiri said.
The 10 Iranian Jews were convicted on July 1st of spying for Israel and were sentenced to prison terms of four to 13 years.
Three others were acquitted.
The case has attracted international scrutiny, with critics questioning whether the accused were fairly tried: There was no jury, the judge also acted as prosecutor and observers were banned.
Esmail Naseri, one of the lawyers who defended the Jews, said the morale of his clients was low, added the AP.
"I met my clients about 20 days ago, and their morale was not good. They think the verdicts against them were excessive, and worse than they expected. They are tired of prison," Naseri told the AP.
Last month, Amiri was reported as saying that the appeals court would issue its verdicts by August 21st, but in his latest comments he said the verdicts were expected by September 5th, the AP said - Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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