IRAN. JUDICIARY ENDS PROCEEDINGS AGAINST AGHAJARI
March 10, 2005: Iran's judiciary has ended proceedings against the country's top academic dissident, a man who faced the death penalty for telling Iranians not to follow their ruling clerics ''like monkeys'', his lawyer said.
Hashem Aghajari last July walked free on bail from two years imprisonment, after winning two appeals against hanging.
However, he still had to appeal against a remaining charge of insulting Islamic values.
Lawyer Saleh Nikbakht said the judiciary had now ruled that the two years already served covered this charge.
''Aghajari is free now and the verdict means he is not going to jail,'' he told Reuters on March 9.
''And he will not be deprived of his social rights or banned from speaking,'' he added.
The history lecturer's 2002 speech calling on Muslims not to follow their leaders blindly struck at the heart of the Shi'ite Islamic Republic, where senior clerics are viewed as ''sources of emulation''.
Students took to the streets in violent protest after the death sentence was passed against Aghajari, who lost a leg in the 1980-1988 war with neighbouring Iraq. (Sources: Reuters, 10/03/05)