Iranian Film-maker to Get Bail Hearing on May 22

Saturday 22 May 2010

View online : AFP

Famed Iranian film director Jafar Panahi, who has been held in Tehran since March 1 and on hunger strike for six days, is to hear on Saturday whether he will be granted bail, his wife and his lawyer said.

The two women, who were both able to visit Panahi in the Iranian capital’s Evin prison on Thursday, said they were hopeful that the Tehran revolutionary court would order the director released until his trial date.

Lawyer Farideh Gheirat told AFP on Friday: "Based on the promise I got (from the judiciary), I am hopeful that he will be released until the date set for his trial.

"I am very optimistic," she added. "Since I was told that his case will be handed to the revolutionary court on Saturday, I think the release will be very soon."

Panahi’s wife Tahereh Saeedi, who visited her husband along with their son and daughter, voiced similar optimism.

Saeedi said that Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, who was present at their prison meeting with her husband, had said that the bail application might be successful.

"We were told that on Saturday the judge handling Jafar’s case will see the case and if he has a favourable opinion Jafar could be released," she told AFP.

"It was good day for Jafar since he saw us, he was able to talk to his lawyer and his case is going to be referred to a revolutionary court," she added.

Saeedi said her husband had appeared in good spirits despite having lost a lot of weight.

"This was my first meeting with Jafar after he went on hunger strike last Sunday," she said.

"He told us his decision to continue it or break it depends on whether the revolutionary court judge decides to release him until trial or not," she added.

"Mentally I found Jafar, who is a resistant person, very strong but physically he has lost a lot of weight and he was weaker but walking in the prison yard before seeing us."

Panahi, who won an award at the 1995 Cannes festival for "The White Balloon" and scooped the Venice film festival’s top gong in 2000 for "The Circle," has been a vocal backer of Iran’s opposition movement.

He was detained, according to Iran’s culture minister, for making an "anti-regime" film about the unrest that rocked the country last year after the disputed presidential election that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.

Panahi had been invited to travel to Cannes this week to join the jury that decides the winner of the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, but was prevented from going by his continued detention.

His mentor, Abbas Kiarostami — whose movie "Certified Copy" is a candidate for this year’s Palme d’Or — on Tuesday denounced the Iranian authorities’ crackdown on artists and called for Panahi’s release.


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