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Iran plans nine more executions before mass rally

NINE more Iranian dissidents are to be executed soon, a senior member of the country's judiciary declared yesterday, as the regime stepped up its efforts to deter another huge opposition rally planned for next week.

Mir Hossein Mousavi, the leader of the Green Movement, showed no sign of backing down, however.

The man defeated in last June's hotly contested presidential election published one of his strongest attacks on the regime to date, accusing it of perpetuating the "tyranny and dictatorship" of the Shah's era, and saying that the Islamic revolution of 1979 had failed.

Unusually, Mr Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, the other main opposition leader, have urged their supporters to take to the streets next Thursday, the 31st anniversary of the fall of the Shah, setting the scene for one of the most explosive confrontations yet between a rattled regime and an increasingly bold opposition.

Last Thursday, two men were hanged for allegedly plotting against the regime -- a move condemned internationally. On Saturday, the regime broadcast the trial of 16 opposition supporters, two of them women, for allegedly plotting against the Islamic Republic and conspiring with its foreign enemies.

Ebrahim Raisi, a senior member of the judiciary, announced yesterday that nine more alleged members of anti-revolutionary groups would be hanged soon. "They had participated in riots with the aim of toppling the system," he said.

Analysts said the regime was trying to deter opposition supporters from taking to the streets on February 11, but Mr Mousavi appears to be growing increasingly defiant. The regime has made it clear it will deal harshly with any demonstrations. (©The Times, London)

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