A revolutionary court on Sunday opened the closed-door trial of several allies of President Mohammed Khatami who attended a controversial "anti-Islamic" conference on reforms in Iran.
Only two of the defendants were in court Sunday after the tribunal announced it would try the defendants "in groups," a judicial official said, cited by state television. It did not name the pair.
The April 7-8 seminar in Berlin was deemed "anti-Islamic" and infuriated conservatives after state television broadcast excerpts showing a woman dancing with bare arms and a man disrobing -- taboo under Iranian law.
Several close Khatami allies, including dissident cleric Hassan Yusefi-Eshkevari and outspoken pro-reform journalist Akbar Ganji, are among those facing charges in connection with the conference.
Eshkevari, who has also been tried by the Special Court for Clergy, is facing a possible death sentence for apostasy while Ganji is also facing separate charges in Tehran's press court.
His lawyer, cited by the state IRNA news agency, said Ganji had been scheduled to be freed on bail Sunday but was held after the press court did not agree to his release.
Others connected to the case include student leader Ali Afshari, lawyer Mehranghiz Kar and publishing director Shahla Lahiji -- both known for their vocal support for women's rights -- and journalist Hamid-Reza Jalai-Pour.
Ezzatollah Sahabi of the pro-reform Iran Freedom Movement and writer Mahmud Dolatabadi are also among those to be tried.
Iran's courts and judicial system are dominated by conservatives – TEHRAN (AFP)
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