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Thursday, December 24, 1998 Published at 11:14 GMT

World: Middle East

Tehran mayor sentence reduced

Political battle: Mr Karbaschi says charges were trumped up

An Iranian appeal court has reduced a prison sentence passed on the mayor of Tehran, a reformist and close ally of the country's president, Mohammed Khatami.

The BBC's Jim Muir: "The prosecution was seen as part of a conservative campaign"
Gholam-Hossein Karbaschi, convicted of embezzlement in July, had his sentence cut from five years to two years.

The court also halved a ban on Mr Karbaschi holding executive office to 10 years, converted a sentence of 60 lashes to a fine and ordered him to make restitution for looted public property, Tehran radio said.

Mr Karbaschi's lawyer told the Reuters newsagency that he would pursue a final appeal to the Supreme Court.

He maintains that the charges against him were part of a political campaign by conservative opponents.

The trial in July became compulsive viewing on Iranian TV and was seen as a test of President Khatami's against conservative opposition to the reformist platform on which he was elected in 1997 with the support of Mr Karbaschi.

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