(19 April 2008) Hadi Ghabel, an outspoken Iranian cleric and member of the central council of the reformist Participation Front, was imprisoned on April 7, beginning a 40 month term following prosecution and conviction by the Special Court for the Clergy, a body akin to modern inquisition court.
According to Ghabel’s son, Ruhollah Ghabel, who was quoted by the Iranian Students News Agency, Hadi Ghabel was placed in custody after responding to a telephone summons from the Special Court of Clergy in Qom. He was subsequently transferred to Langroud Prison in Qom.
The Special Court for the Clergy is charged with investigating other clerics for alleged crimes. It has routinely prosecuted clerics who challenge official interpretations of religion. The Court’s persecution and prosecution of religious scholars, based solely on their beliefs and opinions, constitutes a form of modern inquisition.
Ghabel was sentenced to one year imprisonment for “acting against national security,” 10 months for “propaganda against state,” 15 months for “disturbing public opinion,” 100 days for “aspersion of the clergy,” and a financial fine of 5 million Rials ($550) for insulting the authorities. He was also defrocked.
Security forces detained Ghabel in August 2007 and held him without charge for 56 days. A preliminary court presided by Judge Bahrami issued his sentence, which he appealed. The appeals court, presided by Judges Tabatabai, Rahbarpour, and Raji, confirmed Ghabel’s conviction on all charges. However the court’s decision was not unanimous as Judge Raji did not sign the sentencing document.