The seven Baha'i leaders imprisoned for more than two years in Iran are scheduled to make their fourth court appearance on Saturday June 12, the Baha'i International Community reported.
The date coincides with the first anniversary of last year's contested presidential election in Iran, as well as a global day of action aimed at calling attention to human rights abuses in the country.
The trial of the seven began Jan12, after they had been incarcerated without charge in Tehran's Evin prison for 20 months.
The seven defendants are Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm. Before their imprisonment, they attended to the spiritual and social needs Iran's Baha'i community, which numbers more than 300,000. Mrs. Sabet was arrested March 5, 2008 and the others May 14, 2008.
At the first hearing, held in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, the Baha'is categorically denied charges of espionage, propaganda activities against the Islamic order, and "corruption on earth," among other allegations.
A second appearance Feb.7 was concerned mainly with procedural issues.
The third session held April12, which was purportedly a closed hearing, was adjourned after the seven - with the agreement of their attorneys - refused to be party to the proceedings because of the presence of non-judicial personnel.
"To have spectators, including a film crew, in a supposedly closed hearing while denying entry to the defendants' families was unacceptable," said Diane Ala'i, Baha'i representative to the United Nations in Geneva. "There would be no objection if the trial were to be open and conducted in accordance with international standards."
"In the court sessions held so far, no evidence of wrongdoing has been presented. As their lawyers have confirmed, they are completely innocent and are solely being persecuted for their religious belief," Ms. Ala'i said.
"The Iranian government should know that its actions against these innocent citizens are under scrutiny throughout the world," she said. "Once again we call for their immediate release. Failing that, the seven should - at the very least - be released on bail pending a fair trial."
There are currently some 35 Baha'is in detention in various cities in Iran.