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Appeals court orders that novelist serve full term in prison; risk of re-arrest

(WiPC/IFEX) - WiPC has learned with alarm of the threat of re-arrest of novelist Yaghoub Yadali. He was sentenced on charges of "insult" in September 2007 to one year in prison, and nine months of the term were suspended. However, on 24 February 2008 an appeals court ordered that he serve the term in prison.

Yadali was arrested on 15 March 2007 and detained for 41 days on charges of insult, libel and publication of false information in two of his fictional works: a collection of six short stories entitled "Sketches in the Garden" (Aasa Publications, Tehran, 1997) and parts of his novel "Rituals of Restlessness" (Niloufar publications, Tehran, 2004). Both had been granted approval for publication from Iran's Ministry of Guidance. An excerpt of the novel, featuring a rural Lor woman who is described as an immoral person, is quoted by the prosecutor in the indictment. Yadali is himself a member of the Lor ethnic minority, and is an award-winning writer in the region.

Yadali was tried at a court in the city of Yasuj, capital of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province, southwestern Iran, on 23 August. He was convicted and sentenced in September to one year's imprisonment for "insulting in order to agitate the general public". Nine months of the sentence were suspended for two years, conditional on his writing four articles in local newspapers on Lor art and cultural personalities, published at his own expense. It is feared that he could now be summoned to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Born in 1970, Yadali is a prominent writer, who has also worked as a television director, making documentaries and writing screenplays. In addition to the works for which he was sentenced, he has also published "Probability of Merriment and Mooning" (Nim-negah Publications, Shiraz, 2001), a collection of eight short stories for which he won the Press Critics Annual Prize in 2001, and many articles and cultural commentaries in newspapers and journals.

Since his arrest Yadali has been banned from publishing, and his books have been withdrawn from the market. He has also been dismissed from his job, and is now unemployed and without financial support. Yadali's case was featured in the 2007 Day of the Imprisoned Writer (15 November) Campaign: http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=716&query=day%20of%20imprisoned%20writer

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