Iranian Jews Accused of Spying for Israel Face no Death Sentence

Published May 17th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A lawyer representing the defense team for the Iranian Jews accused of spying for Israel said the penalty for espionage was a long prison term, not death, which would apply to charges of "moharebeh," or fighting against God and the state, reported the Associated Press Wednesday.  

"The indictment so far shows that there should be no death sentence because the charges do not carry that penalty," Naseri told The Associated Press before the trial resumed in the southern city of Shiraz.  

Provincial judiciary chief Hossein Ali Amiri has said that "so far, the charge of moharebeh has not been brought against any of the defendants."  

On trial Wednesday was shop owner Javid Bent-Yacoub, the last of the 10 main defendants being tried behind closed doors. Three other defendants have been out on bail since February, and lawyers said their charges were likely to be much less serious.  

The month-long trial has generated international concern, and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has warned that its outcome could have international repercussions. Defense lawyers question the fairness of the revolutionary court, where the judge is also the prosecutor and there is no jury.  

So far, eight defendants have pleaded guilty and one has denied the charges. Bent-Yacoub has not yet entered a plea.  

In the meanwhile, two members of the Lawyers Withou Frontiers, who are in Iran to follow the proceedings in the case of the asked for meeting with the accused, reported Iranian news agency (IRNA) Wednesday. 

The agency quoted head of justice department in Fars Province Hossein-Ali Amiri said that the meeting would be allowed if reporters are also present.  

Amiri said the best defendants for the accused are the counsels chosen by them.  

The lawyers, Pierre Dunac and Stephane Zerbib, turned down the proposal on meeting the accused in presence of reporters.  

IRNA quoted “informed sources” as saying the lawyers have not forwarded anything which show they are in Iran on a mission from the organization of Lawyers Sans Frontiers and have come to Iran on tourist visas.  

Attorneys of the accused believe that the French lawyers are not well-versed in penal cases and do not actively contribute to topics raised – (Several Sources)  

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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