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Last Updated:  Monday, 10 March, 2003, 17:30 GMT
Iran MPs attack student punishments
Students hold up a picture of the reformist university lecturer, Hashem Aghajari
The protests were largely peaceful
More than 120 Iranian MPs have signed an open letter demanding an end to the expulsion and suspension of students involved in November's demonstrations.

The student protests were triggered by the sentencing to death of the reformist university lecturer, Hashem Aghajari, over remarks questioning the role of clerics in Iran.

The MPs criticised the "unjust measures taken by university disciplinary committees and certain security, police and judicial services against student leaders".

In the letter which is addressed to President Mohammad Khatami they say students have not been given a chance to defend themselves.

Harsh action

For more than a month last year thousands demonstrated on campuses all over the country calling for Mr Aghajari's release and also for political reform.

Iran's Supreme Court overturned the death sentence following the protests.

But the Supreme National Security Council ordered the university disciplinary committees to take harsh measures against the students.

Hashem Aghajari
Hashem Aghajari faces retrial
Around 40 were called to appear before courts or disciplinary committees, according to MP and former student leader Ali Akbar Musavi-Khoini, reports AFP news agency.

Two were sentenced to 50 lashes, one was given a suspended prison sentence, eight were banned from attending courses, three were forced to change university and one was expelled.

At least 26 others are still waiting to hear their punishment.

Mr Aghajari awaits a retrial by the same court that ordered his execution.

He called in a speech for the reform of Islam and said Muslims did not have to follow their religious leaders blindly.

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