NEW YORK, July 31 (JTA) — One month after the conviction of 10 Jews sparked worldwide condemnation of Iran and its judiciary, the Islamic state seems to be responding by putting the prisoners’ appeal on the fast track.
Whether the verdicts will be thrown out or reduced is another question.
But now there is at least hope that some of the 10 — who were sentenced to four to 13 years in prison for an array of alleged anti-state activities — may be released soon after the appeals, said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Appeals in Iran typically drag on for many months, said Hoenlein, but an Iranian judiciary official announced Saturday that a three-judge panel — rather than the normal, lone judge — had been assigned exclusively to the case.
Moreover, spokesman Hossein Ali Amiri was quoted as saying, “The judges have been told not to investigate any other cases until this one is completed,”
The 10 have already been locked up for 18 months, and allowed to spend just five minutes a week with relatives, said Hoenlein.
According to Iranian law, said Hoenlein, prisoners are eligible for parole after one-third of their sentence is served. The panel may consider the 18 months as time already served, which would free at least two of the prisoners.
Furthermore, there is the possibility the panel may allow the convicted Jews to serve their sentences concurrently rather than consecutively.
That would mean Hamid Tefileen, for example, who is one of the alleged ring leaders and was sentenced to 13 years — nine years for aiding a foreign government and four years for membership in an illegal organization — could serve the two sentences simultaneously.
That would be a total of nine years in jail instead of 13.
With parole, Tefileen could be freed after another 18 months, Hoenlein said.