(cross-posted from Revolutionary Road).
Iran starts fifth trial over post-election unrest
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran began a new trial Monday of people accused of fomenting street unrest after a disputed presidential election three months ago, official media reported.
Six people were in the dock for Monday's court session, including a well-known student activist, Abdollah Momeni, the IRNA news agency said.
Iran last month began four mass trials over post-election events against more than 100 people, including senior reformers and former government officials, charged with orchestrating opposition protests in a bid to undermine the Islamic Republic.
The opposition has denounced the court sessions as "show trials." Reformist former President Mohammad Khatami last month said trial confessions by moderates were made in "extraordinary conditions" and were invalid.
The June election, which was followed by huge opposition protests, plunged Iran into political turmoil and exposed deepening divisions within its ruling elites.
The opposition says more than 70 people were killed in the unrest. Officials estimate the death toll at up to 36 people including members of the Islamic Basij militia, which helped the elite Revolutionary Guards quell the protests.
"The fifth ... trial of detainees accused of recent unrest and riots began in Tehran's Revolutionary Court this morning," IRNA said.
"Six people accused of being involved in the recent Tehran unrest appeared in the dock in the presence of their lawyers," it added.
An indictment read out at the trial appeared to focus on "false reports" spread via the Internet in a bid to stir unrest.
"The Islamic revolution of Iran has always been facing psychological warfare and destructive propaganda ... by internal and external enemies," it said, suggesting U.S. financial support for such activity.
"They (Iran's enemies) have used all the latest technology to reach their aims, including the Internet," the ISNA news agency quoted the indictment as saying. "It was one of the important methods to provoke the people ... "
The election and its turbulent aftermath plunged Iran into deep internal crisis. Rights groups say thousands of people, including senior pro-reform figures, were arrested after the poll, though most have been freed.
The moderate opposition says the June 12 poll was rigged to secure President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election. The authorities deny it.
Hardliners have portrayed the opposition protests as a foreign-backed bid to undermine the Islamic government system.
(Writing and additional reporting by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Matthew Jones)