Ebrahim Yazdi

Iranian dissident Ebrahim Yazdi has been sentenced to eight years in prison and a five-year ban from civic activities for the crime of “activities against national security and publishing falsehoods.”

Aftab website quotes Yazdi’s lawyer saying he had challenged the competence of the court and declared the case should be tried in open court before a jury. Therefore, he refused to present a defence.

According to the Article 168 of the Islamic Republic Constitution, political crimes must be prosecuted in an open court in front of a jury. However, Iranian authorities have ignored that stipulation, arguing that political crimes are not defined in the constitution.

Nevertheless, Yazdi’s defence attorney said there is a good chance the appellate court would recognize the preliminary court’s lack of competence in this case.

Ebrahim Yazdi, the head of the reformist organization the Freedom Movement of Iran, was arrested after the controversial presidential elections of 2009, when waves of reformists were detained for challenging the election process.

Yazdi was released three days after his first arrest in July of 2009, only to be re-arrested in December of that year. After 60 days of solitary confinement, he was released on bail due to severe heart complications.

He was arrested once more in September of 2010 for participating in what the authorities called “an illegal Friday Mass prayer” in Esfahan. He spent three months in Evin and another three months in so-called Revolutionary Guards safe houses until the octogenarian dissident was finally released on bail to await the outcome of his trial.