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Thursday, 23 December, 1999, 14:08 GMT
Iran frees German on bail

Helmut Hofer is due back in court in January on different charges


A German businessman who was acquitted of having illegal sex with an Iranian woman has been released on bail, after nearly two years in jail in the capital Tehran.

Helmut Hofer, 58, has instead been charged with insulting and resisting a police officer.

The Iranian news agency, Irna, reported the news. It said that Mr Hofer had been required to post bail of 10 million Iranian Riyals - about $12,500 at the official exchange rate.

The court trying Mr Hofer had agreed to release him after bail had been paid by German diplomats.

He is due back in court again in 20 January.

The long trial

The 56-year-old businessman was arrested 1998 and sentenced to death in January last year, after being found guilty of having illicit relations with an Iranian Muslim woman.

In Iranian law, sex outside marriage is punishable by flogging, but it becomes a capital offence if the man is not a Muslim.


Mr Hofer at a court appearance in September
One appeal, that Mr Hofer had in fact converted to Islam before having sex, was turned down. However, earlier this year the Iranian Supreme Court quashed the death sentence and ordered a retrial.

In September, Mr Hofer did have to pay $23,000 to avoid a flogging passed down by one judge.

He was eventually acquitted for lack of evidence.

Mr Hofer has previously been in court on the charge of insulting the policeman. At that hearing he is reported to have told the presiding judge: "I don't speak Farsi and they don't speak German. How could I have insulted anyone?"

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See also:
10 Oct 98 |  Monitoring
Iranian press report on condemned German
09 Oct 99 |  Middle East
Sex-charge German may be freed
20 Feb 99 |  Middle East
Iran quashes death sentence

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