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Trial of Stockholm academic facing death penalty in Iran begins

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Trial of Stockholm academic facing death penalty in Iran begins
Ahmadreza Djalali has been detained in Iran since last year. Photo: Personal/TT
08:40 CEST+02:00
The trial of a Stockholm academic who is detained in Iran on what Amnesty International calls 'extremely vague grounds' and could face the death penalty is set to get under way.

Researcher Ahmadreza Djalali has been detained since last April. He was arrested in Tehran for espionage and 'enmity with God' – a crime which in Iran can result in the death penalty – during a visit for a conference last year.

An Iranian citizen, the academic has a permanent residence permit in Sweden, where he conducted research in disaster medicine at the prestigious Karolinska Institute, and lived with his wife and two children. He previously worked at the University of Eastern piedmont in Italy, and the Italian government expressed "extreme concern" for his safety in February.

READ ALSO: 'Extreme concern' for academic held in Iran

Human rights organization Amnesty International has urged the authorities to release Djalali or give him a fair and secure trial.

“We hope he will be released. He has been in prison since April last year on extremely vague grounds,” Amnesty Sweden spokesperson Ami Hedenborg said.

“You have to ask yourself what it is really about. There is a great deal of concern over what may happen.”

READ ALSO: PM Löfven brings up human rights on Iran visit

Hedenborg added that it is impossible to speculate about what may happen, as the Iranian justice system is difficult to comprehend:

“Iran has an arbitrary legal system which doesn't comply with the international conditions for a fair trial. It could easily be cancelled or the sentence announced within two minutes”.

The trial was previously scheduled to start in early August, but was postponed when the judge took ill.

“We have asked to attend, but received a refusal,” Anne Torngren from Sweden's Foreign Ministry told news agency TT.  The Swedish embassy has also applied for permission to visit Djalali.

The researcher's wife admits she is not optimistic about the trial.

"I can't expect anything from my home country," she said.

Djalali launched a hunger strike earlier this year, leading his family to become concerned about his health.

READ ALSO: Academic who faces death penalty 'refuses to eat or drink' 

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