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Verdicts in trial of Iranian Jews and Muslims.

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Media release Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer

Monday, 3 July 2000 FA72

Verdicts in trial of Iranian Jews and Muslims

I am deeply concerned at the outcome of the trials of the Iranian Jewish and Muslim citizens on charges relating to membership of espionage rings. The verdicts were announced in the city of Shiraz on Saturday 1 July.

I have personally made representations to Iranian ministers and senior officials on a number of occasions. At my instructions, officials in my Department and in the Australian Embassy in Tehran have raised the case with Iran on many more occasions. Australia has followed the trial proceedings closely. An Embassy official travelled to Shiraz for most sessions of the trial to monitor developments.

Australia has consistently urged that the trials be conducted in accordance with the rule of law and that the accused be afforded the protections prescribed in the Iranian Constitution and in accordance with international human rights norms. However, the closed nature of the trial made monitoring proceedings difficult.

Australia's concern stems from the fact that due to the closed nature of the trial, we are unable to determine whether the trial was conducted in accordance with due process under Iranian law.

We note with particular concern the televising of `confessions' of guilt made by some defendants, which has not helped reassure us that the rights of the accused were protected.

Under Iranian law, defence lawyers have 20 days to appeal the verdicts and defence lawyers have indicated that they intend to do so.

In these circumstances, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the verdicts at this stage.

I will continue personally to urge Iran to ensure that the rights of the accused be protected as prescribed by the Iranian Constitution. Australia will continue to make our concerns known to Iranian authorities and to monitor any appeal proceedings closely.

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