A hardline Iranian cleric has called for opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi to be lashed over his controversial claims that some election protesters were raped or tortured in custody. The Iranian authorities have also banned the defeated presidential candidate's reformist newspaper after it printed the allegations of prison abuse, his aides said. Mr Karroubi has stoked the ire of the authorities with his charges that women and young boys detained in custody after the massive protests over the president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in June had been raped.
"In religious teachings if someone accuses another of sexual crime and he is unable to prove it, then he should receive 80 lashes," the hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami was quoted as saying by the Kayhan newspaper. "Now Mr Karroubi has accused the regime and his allegations were rejected by two branches of the regime," said Mr Khatami, who is a regular leader of Friday prayers in Tehran. Mr Karroubi's son Hossein said on his father's party website that a prosecution official had ordered a "temporary ban" on the publication of his newspaper Etemad Melli (National Confidence) on Sunday.
He said the action was launched because his father had printed "responses to insults against him" over the rape claims which the hardliners charge played into the hands of Iran's foreign critics. * AFP