[JURIST] Iranian officials on Sunday began the trial of at least 25 people detained during protests following the recent contested presidential election [JURIST news archive]. The defendants are accused [AFP report] of a range of crimes including participating in illegal demonstrations and vandalizing public property. More than 100 protesters were put on trial [JURIST report] earlier this month, bringing the total number of defendants on trial to around 140. Also this weekend, Iran's Supreme Leader appointed [Reuters report] Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani to head the country's judiciary. It has been reported that Larijani was hesitant to accept the position because of the controversy surrounding the trials of election protesters. Larijani replaces Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, whose 10-year term has expired.
Iran has been experiencing turmoil in Tehran and elsewhere since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was declared the winner of the disputed June 12 election. Ahmadinejad was recently sworn in for a second term. Last week, three UN human rights experts called on Iran's Revolutionary Court to reject protesters' confessions obtained through torture [JURIST report]. Earlier this month, Iran's Prosecutor General Ghorban Ali Dorri Najafabadi acknowledged [JURIST report] that some protesters arrested after the election were tortured. In early July, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported that some arrested protesters were beaten, deprived of sleep, and threatened with torture in an effort to force false confessions [JURIST report]. Human rights groups have called arrests political repression [JURIST report], saying that Iranian forces are using the protests to "engage in what appears to be a major purge of reform-oriented individuals." Last month, Iran released [JURIST report] some 140 detainees.