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Iranian leader denies abuse claims

  |   Aug. 12, 2009 at 7:11 AM
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TEHRAN, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Iran's parliamentary leader has dismissed allegations of sexual assaults on prisoners held for post-election protests as "sheer lies."

"Claims of sexual abuse of detained protesters are sheer lies," Iran's official Press TV quoted Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani as saying Wednesday. "Following a precise and comprehensive inquiry into (the treatment of) detainees at Kahrizak and Evin prisons, no cases of rape or sexual abuse were found."

Allegations of torture and sexual abuse of protesters were raised by Mehdi Karroubi, one of several presidential candidates who lost to incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the June 12 election. Larijani said if Karroubi offered evidence to support his claims, the Majlis would investigate them.

Karroubi voiced his concerns in a letter dated July 29 to Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, head of the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council.

"The people who informed me about these events hold sensitive positions in the country," the letter read. "(These) officials told me of the things that happened in the detention centers (and) even if one count is true, it would be a tragedy for the Islamic Republic ... and it would overshadow the sins of many dictatorships, including that of the deposed Shah."

The allegations come as courts conduct mass trials of hundreds of opposition figures, protesters and journalists on numerous charges, including "plotting to topple the system" in the aftermath of Ahmadinejad's re-election. Opposition groups said the outcome was the result of massive fraud and called for a new election. Protests that followed turned deadly, with the government cracking down on opposition leaders and their followers, as well as foreign media covering the rallies.

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