Tuesday, September 06, 2005

TEHRAN (AFP) - Iranian human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi accused the hardline judiciary of placing so much pressure on h

TEHRAN (AFP) - Iranian human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi accused the hardline judiciary of placing so much pressure on her colleagues that few were prepared to defend dissidents.
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"Sadly the job security of lawyers has been ruined, so they are less willing to defend political defendants," Ebadi said, complaining that lawyers were being increasingly targetted for arrest.
She was speaking at a meeting to discuss the case of Abdolfattah Soltani, a rights lawyer who was arrested in July on suspicion of disclosing information in a nuclear espionage case.
Soltani, a member of Ebadi's Human Rights Defenders Centre, was acting as a defence lawyer for suspects who are currently on trial for spying and also represents top dissident journalist Akbar Ganji and the family of the murdered Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi.
"Lawyers should not be charged with the same crimes as their clients. Trials related to political charges are not in accordance with human rights," Ebadi complained.
A further case discussed at the meeting was that of Naser Zarafshan, another lawyer who had represented families of the victims of serial killings by "rogue" intelligence agents in 1998.
In 2002 Zarafshan was given a five-year jail term for propogating against the regime and revealing state secrets.
According to veteran lawyer Mohammad Seifzadeh,
Iran' name=c1> SEARCHNews News Photos Images Web' name=c3> Iran's current laws covering arrest and prosecution left the authorities with far too much power.
"They first arrest and then look into the case to bring charges to the detainee," Seifzadeh told the gathering. "These threats make being a lawyer a hard job."

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