The head of the Judicial Department in the province of Tehran says that indictments against the detained environmentalists have been delivered to the "Revolution Court" and the specific court for their trial has been selected.
Speaking to the state-run Mehr News Agency (MNA), Gholamhossein Esmaeili said on Friday, November 9, that the trial will begin soon.
Earlier, the spokesman of Islamic Republic's judiciary had also confirmed that the indictments against five of the detainees were issued and sent to the Revolutionary Court.
Eight Iranian environmentalists have been kept in custody since last January. Initially, they were charged with espionage, but, in an interview with Radio Farda on October 21, one of their attorneys, veteran lawyer Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, disclosed that the prosecutor decided to replace the charge with "Corruption on Earth".
The charge against five detained environmentalists has been changed from "espionage" to "Corruption on Earth" after the examining magistrate received a letter from the Iranian Army, Aghasi cited Tehran Prosecutor-General as saying.
Later, Tehran's Prosecutor-General, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi confirmed that the charges were indeed changed after the amendment of the indictments.
Meanwhile, the head of Iranian parliament’s Environment Faction, Mohammad Reza Tabesh said that replacing the charge of espionage with "corruption on Earth", has "surprised" him.
According to Article 228 of the new Islamic Penal Code adopted in 2013, “corruption on earth” is defined as: “Any person who extensively commits felony against the...people, offenses against internal or international security of the state, spreading lies, disruption of the economic system of the state, arson and destruction of properties, distribution of poisonous and bacterial and dangerous materials, and establishment of, or aiding and abetting in, places of corruption and prostitution…shall be considered as ‘corrupt on earth’ and shall be sentenced to death.”
Eight environmentalists, Niloufar Bayani, Houman Jokar, Sepideh Kashani, Amir Hossein Khaleqi, AbdolReza Kouhpayeh, Taher Qadirian, and Sam Rajabi as well as Iranian-American dual citizen Morad Tahbaz have been held in temporary custody by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' Intelligence Organization since last January.
Iranian-Canadian founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Professor Kavous Seyyed-Emami, who was detained alongside the eight ecologists, mysteriously died last January in Tehran's infamous prison, Evin.
The authorities maintain that 63-year old Seyyed-Emami committed suicide behind bars, an allegation categorically denied by the environmentalist's relatives.
None of the detainees have been allowed to freely designate a legal counsel, while under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is required to ensure that anyone facing criminal charges has access to a lawyer of their choosing.