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BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran
The judiciary is accused of pursuing a series of one-sided prosecutions against reformist figures
 real 28k

Sunday, 4 March, 2001, 16:32 GMT
Key Khatami ally sentenced
Khatami supporters
The sentence is another blow to supporters of reform in Iran
An Iranian court has sentenced the Deputy Interior Minister, Mostafa Tajzadeh, to one year in jail on charges of vote-rigging in last year's parliamentary elections.

The sentence was handed down by Tehran's administrative court, in addition to a 39-month ban on holding public office and a six-year ban on overseeing elections.

Mostafa Tajzadeh
Tajzadeh: Another close ally of Khatami behind bars
It means Mr Tajzadeh, a close ally of the reformist President Mohammad Khatami, will be barred from his appointed role of organising presidential elections in June.

He was found guilty of "complicity in electoral fraud" during the February 2000 election, when reformists were swept to power in the Majlis, or parliament.

The BBC correspondent in Tehran, Jim Muir, says reformists see the case against him as clear evidence of a right-wing campaign to undermine President Khatami.

Mr Tajzadeh rejected the court's verdict and vowed to protest against it.

"Some people are angry about the way the people voted, but that is not my problem," the Iranian news agency Irna quoted him as saying on Sunday.

Other cases

The court also sentenced Tehran governor Ayatollahi Azarmi to 18 months imprisonment, and banned him from holding office for 23 months after convicting him on similar charges.

Meanwhile, a pro-reform MP from Tehran, Fatemeh Haqiqat-Joo, is reported to have been summoned by the court on charges of inciting public opinion and insulting the judiciary.

The newspaper Iran said the summons followed a complaint filed by the prosecutor-general against the MP.

Power struggle

A power struggle has developed in Iran since hard-liners headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lost control of the parliament for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The hard-liners control the courts and other key institutions, and have jailed several of President Khatami's important allies.

They have also closed down more than 30 publications, most of them pro-democracy newspapers.

June's presidential elections are widely expected to be another showdown between the two factions.

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See also:

28 Feb 01 | Middle East
Iranian reformist journalist jailed
15 Jan 01 | Middle East
Iran sentences spark row
14 Jan 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Backlash gathers pace
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