Judiciary: Death sentence on Iranian dissident ''not final''
The Iranian judiciary said that a death sentence on dissident Hashem Aghajari for blasphemy was still not final despite its reimposition by a provincial judge, the student news agency ISNA reported.
Earlier the judiciary chief for Hamedan province in western Iran, Zekrollah Ahmadi, told AFP the judge in the provincial court had "maintained his original decision."
"The decision must again be referred to Iran's supreme court," which rejected the earlier condemnation on technical grounds, Ahmadi said, adding that any technical flaws had now been rectified.
In November 2002, the Hamedan judge ruled that Aghajari had committed blasphemy and, in accordance with Islamic and Iranian law, deserved to die.
However, following demonstrations by students and protests by reformists in the government, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded the sentence be reviewed. In January 2003, the supreme court ordered a re-trial.
In the summer of 2002, the disabled war veteran and history professor delivered an explosive speech in Hamedan directed at the very core of Iran's 25-year-old Islamic regime.
Aghajari called for a "religious renewal" of Shiite Islam, espoused a major structural shake-up in Iran's religion of state, and asserted that Muslims were not "monkeys" and "should not blindly follow" religious leaders.
For the "hardliners", those comments were seen as a frontal assault on the Shiite doctrine of emulation and Khamenei's status as supreme guide.
Aghajari, apart from the death penalty, was also sentenced in 2002 to eight years behind bars. The term was later commuted to four years before being scrapped on April 14, but he is still being held in Tehran's Evin prison. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)