Iran to Try Five Detained Protesters

Five protesters who were detained in late December will soon stand trial in Iran, the official IRNA news agency reported Thursday.

The report said the five will face a revolutionary court, which ordinarily deals with security charges. The report did not elaborate when the trial will begin and what charges the protesters face.

Iranian judicial officials last week said some detainees could face the death penalty.

At least eight people died in clashes between security forces and opposition supporters late last month. It was the worst bloodshed since the height of the unrest immediately after the contested June re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In a relevant report, the semi-official Mehr news agency on Thursday quoted Alaeddin Broujerdi, head of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, as saying the top diplomat at the embassy of a European nation he did not name was detained during last month's protests but was released a day later.

Officials have said that several foreign nationals were among those detained during the protests.

Authorities have detained more than 500 opposition figures and activists since then.

Many will likely be tried for apostasy — a crime punishable by death under Iranian law — as well as attempts to topple the government and fomenting the postelection turmoil.

Iran has already sentenced five defendants to death in an ongoing mass trial of more than 100 opposition activists and figures. More than 80 have been sentenced to prison terms ranging between six months and 15 years.

Opposition members have on several occasions since June poured into the streets to protest the results of the election, saying Ahmadinejad won the vote fraudulently.

The opposition says more than 80 protesters have been killed in the postelection crackdown, but the government puts the number of confirmed dead at less than 40.