Khatami says death sentence on professor '\'improper verdict'\'; Judiciary defends ruling
Iran's President Mohammad Khatami Wednesday said that the death sentence, handed to university professor Hashem Aghajari on charge of blasphemy, was an "improper verdict."
Meanwhile, Saleh Nikbakht, the lawyer of Aghajari said that his client had decided not to appeal the verdict. "My client has asked me to prevent from appealing the sentence," Nikbakht said and cited Aghajari as saying that "those who have issued this verdict have to implement it if they think it is right or else the Judiciary has to handle it."
Nikbakht said he would use all his efforts to persuade his client to lodge an appeal, but added that "it is up to him (Aghajari) to make the final decision."
On its part, Iran's judiciary has hit back at its critics and defended the verdict.
"How can one defend someone who claims to be a Muslim but casts doubt on the principles of the religion ... and qualifies as monkeys those who follow religious dignitatries," the judiciary's public relations office said.
"Do these comments, repeated by the accused a number of times during his trial, not justify such a verdict by a believing and Muslim judge?" the statement asked.
Aghajari was put on trial after calling in a speech for a reform of Iran's state Shiite religion. (Albawaba.com)
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