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Iran Prosecutor General Says Protester Trials To Start Next Week

Prisoners of November protests in a Tehran prison. No numbers, names and no information about prisoner status revealed by government.

Iran's Prosecutor General announced that "many of those detained" in the November protests across Iran have been indicted and their trials will begin next week.

Mohammad Jafar Montazeri also said those who "could be freed" have already been released from prison.

Iran has so far refused to disclose the number of the detainees or give any information about hundreds who were killed by the security forces' heavy-handed response to the protesters.

Based on Radio Farda's data, at least 8,000 people were arrested in different cities across Iran between November 15, when the protests broke out, and December 5. Since then hundreds of more arrests have taken place.

It is not clear if access to lawyers has been provided to the detainees. In similar cases in the past, Iran’s judicial system has not offered the chance for an open and fair trial and in many cases court-appointed lawyers have been the only available option.

Speaking on the sidelines of a judicial ceremony in the city of Bandar Abbas, southern Iran, Montazeri asserted that those who had been freed were the victims of "provocation" but some of them were released on bail.

The protests initially broke out on November 15 after an unexpected overnight three-fold increase in gasoline prices. On the following day, the demonstrations turned into anti-Islamic Republic rallies that soon spread to more than 100 cities.

People in 28 out of 31 provinces of Iran joined the protests, chanting slogans against the clergy-dominated establishment governing the country.

The spokesman of parliament’s Commission for National Security and Foreign Policy has mentioned the only . Seven thousand have been placed behind bars for participating in the protests, Hossein Naqavi Hossaini revealed.

Nevertheless, a top Islamic Republic human rights official, Mohammad-Javad Larijani, claimed that only hundreds, not thousands of people are kept in custody and that no one was arrested for "protesting."

Montazeri reiterated a promise made by various officials that the number of those killed will be announced after “a thorough investigation”, although more than a month after security forces opened fire on protesters no preliminary information has been released.

Amnesty International and opposition groups have said more than 300 were killed, while U.S. officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo say the number could reach 1,000.

Almost all those killed in the protests were shot by the security forces, Special Unit members and plainclothesmen who were sent in to quell the demonstrations.Most of the victims died of direct shots, reports say.

Iran Prosecutor-General on Thursday once again accused an unnamed "enemy" of "inciting" the protests.

"The enemy had armed its agents that had infiltrated the country. They planned the riots, using the cyberspace for issuing their guidelines," Montazeri maintained.

Meanwhile, he criticized the Ministry of Communication for hesitating for 48 hours to disconnect the internet after the anti-regime protests broke out.