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Judicial CP - October 1999

BBC News Online, London, 14 October 1999

World: Middle East

New charges for German in Iran

Mr Hofer was summoned to court, but his lawyer was not informed

A German businessman hoping to be released from prison in Iran after paying a fine for an alleged affair with a Muslim has been rearrested on new charges.

Helmut Hofer was sent back to prison after being accused of "insulting and resisting officers", among other charges, Iranian TV reported.

"At today's court session, the other offences committed by Hofer were read out to him," the TV said.

"At the end, the order for his arrest was issued and he was sent to prison again."

Correspondents say that separate accusations of having "suspicious" foreign contacts, which led to his re-arrest and which could have paved the way to an espionage indictment, appeared not to have been pursued by the judge.

Mr Hofer spoke to journalists briefly after the extended interview with Judge Yusef Musavi, telling them about the new charges.

Arrested and re-arrested

He managed to say a few words to waiting reporters

He managed to say a few words to waiting reporters

The German consul in Tehran said Mr Hofer had told the judge: "I don't speak Farsi and they don't speak German. How could I have insulted anyone?"

The German's defence lawyer was not present and told reporters later that he had not been called to the court.

Mr Hofer was to have been released from jail on Thursday after agreeing in September to pay a fine over the illicit sex charges.

Mr Hofer paid about $23,000 last week in lieu of a flogging handed down by Mr Musavi.

An earlier death penalty against him was overturned by the supreme court in February.

In Iran, sex outside marriage is punishable by flogging, but if the man is not a Muslim, he faces the death penalty. Mr Hofer's co-defendant was sentenced to 100 lashes.

Mr Hofer was released on bail but re-arrested in August and accused of the suspicious foreign contacts. This was shortly after the jailing of an Iranian national in Berlin on espionage charges.

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