Iran prominent opposition leader begins hunger strike

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Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi, under house arrest for the past six years, was hospitalised Thursday after going on hunger strike a day earlier to demand a trial date, his family told local media.

“His health condition deteriorated after the hunger strike and he is now hospitalised,” said Sahamnews website, which is affiliated to Karroubi’s family.

He was admitted to Shahid Rajaei hospital due to high blood pressure, less than 24 hours after beginning a hunger strike Wednesday morning, it said, adding that he was still refusing to eat.

His son Mohammad also confirmed the news on Twitter.

“At 1:00 AM, Thursday father was sent to hospital due to the hunger strike. Pray a lot,” he said.

Karroubi’s wife Fatemeh Karroubi told Sahamnews that his first demand was the removal of intelligence ministry agents inside their home as well as recently-installed security cameras, which she said “has no precedent before or after the (1979 Islamic) revolution in any house arrest”.

“Second… in case of continuation of the house arrest, they should arrange a public trial,” she said.

Karroubi “does not expect a fair trial” but wants it to be public and would respect the verdict, she added.

He and fellow reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi were candidates in Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election which sparked months of mass protests over claims they were rigged in favour of hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Both men were placed under house arrest in 2011 for their role in the protests — which were brutally suppressed by the regime — but have never been charged.

In March, Iran sentenced Karroubi’s eldest son, Hossein Karroubi, to six months in prison for “propaganda against the regime” after he published a letter that his father had written to Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani, a reputed moderate, calling for a trial.

The 79-year-old Karroubi was hospitalised earlier this month and underwent a heart operation, Sahamnews reported.

A reformist MP, Mostafa Kavakebian, raised Karroubi’s hunger strike in parliament on Wednesday, calling for action from the health and intelligence ministries.

-AFP

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