Rioters trial begins in Iran

TEHRAN: The trial to prosecute a group of 'rioters' who opposed the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has begun in a revolutionary court in Tehran, the official IRNA news agency said on Saturday.

IRNA did not specify how many of those accused of rioting during the violence unleashed after Ahmadinejad's controversial election victory in June were on trial on Saturday.

But Iranian news networks said earlier that about 30 people accused of rioting would be put on trial from Saturday.

Iranian news agencies say the accused face charges of having "participated in riots, acting against national security, disturbing public order, vandalising public and government property and having ties with counter-revolutionary groups."

The post-election violence, mainly in Tehran, has left around 30 people dead and hundreds wounded, Iranian officials say.

IRNA said according to Tehran prosecuters those on trial include people whose photographs had been taken while "committing the crimes."

"Some of their accomplices are on the run but they will be surely identified by our dear people and handed over to the law," the report said.

Following the June 12 vote, which opposition leaders say was rigged, security forces arrested up to 2,000 protesters, political activists, reformists and journalists as hundreds of thousands rallied to challenge the results declaing Ahmadinejad as the winner.

Most detainees have been released but about 250 remain behind bars and their continued imprisonment has become a rallying point for the anti-Ahmadinejad movement.

The Islamic republic is engulfed in its worst crisis in its 30-year existence as a group led by former premier Mir Hossein Mousavi refuse to acknowledge Ahmadinejad's victory and demand a rerun of the election.

Iran has also accused foreign governments of complicity in crimes and killings during the unrest that erupted after the election.

On Friday, a fresh anti-West salvo was fired by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

"Western and European countries, with their overt and covert capabilities, interfered in Iran's election... the worst among them being Britain," Mottaki was quoted as saying by the state broadcaster's website.

"The countries who interfered through their television networks by telling how to instigate riots, build explosives and other tension creating activities are accomplices in all the committed crimes, murders and are held responsible."