Update on third trial session of Iranian Baha'i leaders
GENEVA — Details are emerging from yesterday's court appearance in Tehran of seven imprisoned Iranian Baha'i leaders.
The Baha'i International Community has learned that when the prisoners arrived at the court, their families were not allowed to enter, signaling a closed hearing.
Inside the courtroom, however, the prisoners saw numerous officials and interrogators from the Ministry of Intelligence – along with a film crew which had already set up its cameras.
Concerned over the presence of non-judicial personnel in a supposedly closed hearing, the Baha'is – with the agreement of their attorneys – declined to be party to the proceedings.
The judge adjourned the session and did not announce a date for continuing the trial.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran should immediately set free these seven innocent prisoners," said Diane Ala'i, Baha'i representative to the United Nations in Geneva.
"The dictates of justice demand no less," she said. "They are now about to enter the third year of their incarceration on baseless charges which they have categorically denied and for which the government has no evidence whatsoever.
"At the very least, they should be released on bail and steps be taken to ensure that their trial is conducted fairly, in accordance with international standards of jurisprudence.
"If their confinement is to continue, the harsh conditions under which they are being held must be improved," she said.
Yesterday's session was the third in the ongoing trial of the seven Baha'is, who have been accused of espionage, propaganda activities against the Islamic order, and "corruption on earth," among other charges. Their first court appearance was 12 January this year.
The seven defendants are Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm. Mrs. Sabet was arrested on 5 March 2008 and the others on 14 May 2008.