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Official in Iran Hopes for Jews' Acquittal

March 18, 2000|Religion News Service

Iran's judiciary spokesman said he hopes that 13 Iranian Jews awaiting trial on charges of spying for Israel will be acquitted.

"We all hope and desire that none of them is convicted, and hope that they are all innocent and will be acquitted," Hossein Sadequi said.

"The scale of justice should weigh heaviest toward leniency and compassion," he added.

The 13 are set to go on trial April 13. Their arrest has brought heavy criticism from other countries. Israel has denied any links to the accused, and the outcry has hampered Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's drive for better ties with the West.

The remarks appeared to reflect a shift toward more moderate judicial policies since the appointment last year of Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Sharhroudi as head of the judiciary.

Iran's Jewish community has shrunk to an estimated 35,000 members from more than 80,000 before the 1979 Islamic revolution.

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