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Saturday, 29 December, 2001, 09:14 GMT
Iran court cuts reformists' sentences
Iranian hardliners at demonstration
The six originally received up to five years in jail
An Iranian court has reduced the sentences of six people jailed for between four and five years for attending a reformist conference in Berlin last year.

Veteran opposition politician Ezatollah Sahabi and student leader Ali Afshari will now only have to serve respectively six months and a year in jail, time they had both already served waiting for the verdict.

In addition, prominent Iranian feminists Mehangiz Kar and Shahla Lahiji, and lawyer Shahla Sherkat, had their jail terms replaced with fines of around $500.

And economist Fariborz Raisdana was cleared of charges of undermining national security and insulting Islamic values.

Originally Kar and Lahiji were given four year jail terms, while Sahabi received four and a half years and Afshari received five years.

Controversial conference

The Berlin conference, sponsored by the German Green Party, was organised last April to discuss the future of Iran following elections in Iran in which reformists scored a sweeping victory.

Attendees at the Berlin conference in Berlin last year
The conference collapsed amid brawls and heckling from delegates

However the conference soon collapsed in acrimony when radicals disrupted the meeting by heckling speakers and brawls erupted among delegates.

Iran later arrested 17 academics, journalists and translators and handed down tough jail sentences for seven, while the rest were given suspended sentences and harsh fines.

Iran's actions led to tough criticism from abroad from both Iranian opposition groups and international human rights organisations.

See also:

19 Apr 00 | Middle East
Iran outcry over rowdy conference
18 Oct 00 | Middle East
UN criticises Iran's human rights
14 Jan 01 | Middle East
Germany's 'concern' at Iran verdicts
09 Nov 00 | Middle East
Uproar as Iran judge accused
10 Jul 00 | Middle East
'New start' for Iran-German relations
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