Iranian prof's sentence of death is appealed

By Ali Akbar Dareini
Associated Press
Dec. 3, 2002

TEHRAN, Iran - A university professor sentenced to death for insulting Islam remained defiant, but his lawyer appealed the verdict on Monday, challenging a case that has provoked weeks of protests by students and the intervention of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Lawyer Saleh Nikbakht said he appealed against the wishes of Hashem Aghajari, who wanted to challenge the judiciary to carry out the sentence.

Khamenei, attempting to defuse the political crisis sparked by the case, had ordered the judiciary to reconsider the verdict.

Aghajari's case highlights the struggle between reformists who support President Mohammad Khatami's push for social and political freedoms and hard-liners who control unelected institutions such as the judiciary and police.

Aghajari, a professor of history at Tehran's Teachers Training University, was convicted of insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

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