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Jailed Iran dissident ready to die

Tehran, Nov. 13 (Reuters): A dissident Iranian academic on death row, whose fate has sparked five days of mass student protests, is ready to die and has no intention of appealing against the sentence, his lawyer said today.

The decision of Hashem Aghajari, a reformist history lecturer sentenced to hang last week for blasphemy, was a direct challenge to Iran’s conservative establishment, closing the door on an early end to tensions ignited by the verdict. Some 2,500 university students rallied in Tehran again today in protest against the judiciary’s treatment of Aghajari, calling for political reforms.

Aghajari’s case has become a cause celebre for reformists allied to President Mohammad Khatami who are locked in a legal struggle to break the stranglehold on power of hardliners entrenched in the judiciary and unelected state bodies.

“Aghajari has clearly told me to refrain from appealing the verdict,” his lawyer said.

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