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Friday, 29 September, 2000, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
Conviction of Iranian lawyers condemned

Two human rights organizations have criticised the conviction by a court in Iran of two of the country's leading human rights lawyers on charges of defamation.

The United States-based Human Rights Watch said the lawyers should have been given a fair and public trial in accordance with international law.

Amnesty International told the BBC the verdicts represented a failure of the Iranian judical system.

Amnesty called for an open trial -- or for the verdicts to be quashed.

The lawyers, Shirin Ebadi and Mohsen Rahami, were given suspended prison sentences of fifteen months each and banned from practising for five years. They were accused of producing a video-tape alleging that prominent conservative figures supported the activities of violent right-wing vigilante groups.

The man featured in the tape, Amir Farshad Ebrahimi, was sentenced to two years in jail.

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