Iran courts jail 30 men for economic crimes after public outcry

DUBAI (Reuters) – Fast-track courts set up in Iran to fight economic crime have jailed 30 men for up to 20 years each, the judiciary said on Sunday, as the country faces renewed U.S. sanctions and a public outcry against profiteering and corruption.

The new Islamic revolutionary courts — whose rulings cannot be appealed, except for death sentences — were set up in August after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for “swift and just” legal action to confront an “economic war” by foreign enemies.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, quoted by the body’s news website Mizan, said 29 Iranians and an Afghan foreign exchange dealer were found guilty of crimes including bribery, embezzlement and “disrupting the economy”.

Many of the men were also fined, sentenced to lashes and had the “ill-gotten” part of their assets seized, Ejei said.

Iran’s supreme court upheld the death sentence of a businessman for economic crimes, Ejei also said, weeks after the execution of two traders on similar charges.

Iranian officials have accused arch-foes the United States and Israel, as well as regional rival Saudi Arabia and government opponents living in exile, of fomenting unrest and waging an economic and media war to destabilize Iran.

The rial currency has lost about 65 percent of its value in 2018 under the threat of revived U.S. sanctions, with heavy demand for dollars and gold coins on the unofficial market from ordinary Iranians trying to protect their savings.

The cost of living has also soared, provoking sporadic demonstrations against profiteering and corruption.

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