x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Iranian cleric lashes out at deaths in custody

Iran's top dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri lashes out at the country's regime over the deaths in custody of election protesters.

Iran's top dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri lashed out at the country's regime today over the deaths in custody of election protesters. "Those who are behind bars are being forced to confess under torture and every day a body is being delivered to their family," Mr Montazeri said in a letter posted on his website. Iranian media reports said four people detained over the protests that erupted after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election last month have died in custody.

Iranian authorities yesterday freed 140 protesters and said more would be released by Friday but 20 would be put on trial on a range of charges including bombings and attacking security forces. "What is their sin, except silently protesting against several wrongdoings, offences and fraud in the election," Mr Montazeri said of the detainees. "What do the authorities gain from the crisis they have created? Was the objective of establishing the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij (militia) to kill brothers and suppress our people?"

Mr Montazeri, who was once tipped to succeed revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as supreme leader, urged the "decision makers" to use "logic, reason and Islamic law before the current crisis deepens". "I am very worried like you are," he said in his message to opposition leaders. * AFP