Reporters Allowed into Courtroom as Iranian Jews' Trial Resumes

Published May 10th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Journalists and photographers were allowed briefly to enter the courtroom before a widely followed trial of 13 Iranian Jews charged with spying for Israel resumed behind closed-doors here Wednesday. 

It was the first time since the trial opened on April 13 in this southern city that judges have allowed such a measure. 

The journalists entered the tribunal for about five minutes to speak with the main judge, Sadeq Nurani, lawyers involved in the case and one of the defendants, Nasser Levi-Haim. 

On Monday, Judge Nurani rejected a defense request for the closed-door proceedings to be made open to the public, citing national security concerns. 

Officials said Nasser Lev-Haim, who has admitted to Western reporters and the court that he worked for Israeli intelligence, opened the session with his final defense. He was expected to repent and appeal for mercy.  

Two brothers, Farzad and Faramarz Kashi were then scheduled to hear the indictment and respond to the charges that they were part of a spy ring in Shiraz. Nine Muslims are also under suspicion in connection with the alleged espionage.  

To date, five suspects have admitted passing information to Israel, Iran's arch-foe. However, their lawyers say the material was not classified and thus they are not guilty of the capital offence of espionage.  

The case has aroused keen interest abroad, with Israel, overseas Jewish groups and many foreign governments publicly expressing fears the closed-door proceedings are unfair.  

Iran has said national security prevents an open courtroom and accusing its critics of bias against the Islamic Republic. Officials say the defendants' faith will have no effect on the outcome.  

Judicial officials say the hearings will continue with each of the 13 in the dock individually – (Agencies)  

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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