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10 theSun | WEDNESDAY AUGUST 26 2009

news without borders


Iran puts top reformists,
Khatami aides on trial
TEHERAN: Several aides denounced as “show trials,” can scholar Kian Tajbakhsh
to former Iranian president have angered the internation- were also on trial. Saeed
Mohammad Khatami and al community and heightened Leylaz, a leading journalist
top reformists were put on political tensions as Iran bat- and Mohammad Ghoochani,
trial yesterday on charges of tles its worst crisis since the chief editor of Etemad Melli,
masterminding the post-elec- 1979 Islamic revolution. the newspaper owned by
tion unrest which rocked the In the dock were Khatami another defeated presidential
Islamic republic. aides such as former deputy candidate Mehdi Karroubi
“The fourth session of the interior minister Mostafa Taj- were also in the dock.
revolutionary court dealing zadeh, former deputy foreign Khatami, who was presi-
with masterminds of the re- minister Mohsen Aminzadeh, dent of Iran from 1997 to 2005,
cent incidents has begun,” the ex-deputy economy minister is a supporter of opposition
Fars news agency said. Mohsen Safaie-Farahani and groups who have rejected Aso Hatoyama
Iran has already staged reformist activists Mohsen Ahmadinejad’s re-election
mass trials of around 140 Mirdamadi and Abdollah in what they charge was a
people on offences linked to Ramezanzadeh. Behzad Na- massively rigged poll.

Japan polls may
the street violence that fol- bavi, a top reformist thinker At previous hearings, the
lowed President Mahmoud and former minister in the defendants have included
Ahmadinejad’s hotly-disputed post-revolution government political activists, a French
victory in the June election. of Ahmadinejad’s main woman lecturer and two
The court proceedings, election rival Mir Hossein employees of the French and
which opposition leaders Mousavi, and Iranian-Ameri- British embassies. – AFP

trigger historic change
TOKYO: Japan heads for elections on Sunday that have eaten away at Japan since the early
that look set to shift the political landscape of 1990s.
the world’s second largest economy, with a Japan’s economy – now slowly emerging
centre-left party ending half a century of al- from its latest, deepest recession – will be
most unbroken conservative rule. eclipsed by neighbouring giant China as the
Polls predict the opposition Democratic world’s number two economy as early as
Party of Japan (DPJ) led by Yukio Hatoyama next year, the International Monetary Fund
will win easily, perhaps in a landslide, against has predicted.
the business-friendly Liberal Democratic With low birth rates and the world’s high-
Party (LDP) of unpopular Prime Minister est life expectancy, Japan’s population of 127
Taro Aso. million is rapidly greying and set to shrink by
The DPJ is likely to scoop up 300 of the one quarter by 2050, leaving fewer workers to
480 lower house seats, more than doubling support a growing number of elderly.
its strength, the Sankei Shimbun daily said The spreading fear about the future means
yesterday after a mammoth survey of 44,000 the LDP behemoth can no longer rely on its
voters it conducted with Fuji Television. contract with the electorate, in which boom-
If the DPJ pulls off the victory, it will make ing companies and rich farm towns long
history in a country whose electorate has been rewarded it with en-masse support at the
famously risk-averse and where conservative ballot box.
rule has been entrenched since it steered “We have long heard that the LDP’s one-
Japan out of the ashes of World War II. party dominance was about to end,” said
For over five decades, the LDP has been Tomoaki Iwai, a politics professor at Nihon
part of an “iron triangle” with big business University.
and the state bureaucracy that presided over “Now, it seems to be coming true... There
Japan’s miracle run to become an economic will be a period of confusion. It will take time.
giant whose corporate titans remain world- But the system is obsolete and must change.”
leaders. For a new generation, the idea of jobs-for-
Now, in far gloomier times, the DPJ has life is a distant memory. The neoliberal poli-
promised new, more people-centred solutions cies of former premier Junichiro Koizumi are
to a different set of problems – a deep sense blamed for social disparities and unemploy-
of economic malaise and social stagnation ment is near a post-war high at 5.4%. – AFP

Firefighters gain upper hand
against Greek inferno
ATHENS: Exhausted firefighters contained on year, but more than a dozen homes have been
Monday wildfires which had been bearing down gutted and scores more are feared lost.
on Athens and threatened ancient Greek land- “The situation has improved, there is no
marks after a round-the-clock rescue effort. more significant active fronts in the Athens
But the authorities’ response to the inferno region”, fire service spokesman Yannis Kapakis
came under criticism two years after similar told reporters.
wildfires that killed 77 people. More than 500 firefighters have been in-
After a weekend of devastation which saw volved in the effort to douse the fire around
hundreds of residents evacuated from their Athens, bolstered by counterparts from France,
homes in the suburbs to safer areas , thousands Italy, Austria, Cyprus and even Greece’s tradi-
of hectares of woodland reduced to cinders and tional rival Turkey. Around 300 troops have also
fears that Athens would soon be choked by been on standby.
smoke, respite finally came when heavy winds The fires have threatened some of Greece’s
died down. most important archaeological sites including
Crews on the ground have been backed up the ancient Athenian fortress of Rhamnous,
by water-bombers flying overhead since Friday near Grammatiko, where firefighters again bat-
and their efforts finally began to pay off as the tled on Monday to hold back the flames.
plumes of black smoke receded although the The plain of Marathon, site of the battle in
smell of burnt wood was all pervading. 490 BC between the ancient Greeks and invad-
A fire service spokesman said that while ing Persians, had also been engulfed in smoke.
fire crews would remain on standby in case Meanwhile fire crews managed to save the
the flames flared up again, the situation had Pantokrator Monastery, which was founded
been brought under control everywhere apart in the mid-14th century, from being burned
from around Porto Germeno, to the west of the down after the nuns occupying it refused to
capital. evacuate.
Several residents refused to evacuate from Other fires brought havoc to some of the
Porto Germeno in order to protect their proper- country’s tourist retreats, including the Ionian
ties. resort island of Zante and Skyros, an island in
So far casualties have been averted this the Aegean Sea. – AFP