- The Washington Times - Monday, December 31, 2001

TEHRAN (Agence France-Presse) Six reformist members of the Iranian parliament submitted their resignations yesterday to protest the jailing of a colleague for insulting the conservative judiciary, the state Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.
Mohammad Kazemi, Bijan Shahbaz-Khani, Zabihollah Safaie, Mohsen Torkashvand, Mohammad Piran and Mohammad-Reza Hosseini had sent resignation letters to the reform-majority chamber's deputy speaker, IRNA said.
Parliament can decide whether to accept or refuse the resignations.
Hossein Loghmanian, a deputy who represents Hamedan in western Iran, was sentenced by a Tehran court in September to a year in prison for "insulting" the judiciary.
On Tuesday, he started his term in the Iranian capital's notorious Evin prison, sparking outrage among reformist deputies in parliament, who claimed that their immunity had been violated.
Leading conservative and former head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi said Friday that parliamentarians had no immunity.
Parliamentary sources say more than 60 deputies are being prosecuted for their writings or speeches in parliament, or for having taken part in political gatherings.
Tehran's appeal court has confirmed the jail sentences of three of them. So far, only Mr. Loghmanian has been jailed.
As tensions mount between the country's two rival camps, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called yesterday for "mutual respect" between the judiciary and parliament, but refused to block the trials of the members of parliament and prevent their jailings.
"It is essential that parliament respects the courts and the courts respect parliament," he said in a letter to the House deputy speaker and head of the main reformist party, Mohammad-Reza Khatami.
Mr. Khatami, brother of Iran's reformist President Mohammed Khatami, asked Ayatollah Khamenei last week to order a halt to legal proceedings against members of parliament and asked for the release of Mr. Loghmanian.

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