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Iran's Judicial Chief Orders Decision on Detainees

Iranian media report the nation's judiciary chief has ordered officials to quickly decide the fate of protesters detained in the wake of last month's disputed presidential election.

Judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said Judiciary Chief Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi said officials must decide within a week whether to keep detainees in jail or release them.

The spokesman said 300 protesters remain in detention from the massive street protests that stemmed from the June 12 re-election victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The political opposition alleges fraud, but Iranian authorities say the vote was fair.

Also, Human Rights Watch has accused Iranian authorities of continuing to arrest and harass human rights lawyers in an attempt to prevent them from representing political prisoners.

The organization released a statement Sunday based on reports from Iranian attorneys and detainees' family members.

In other news, Iran's state-run television reports that a senior Iranian prison official has said meningitis is to blame for the deaths of two men detained in the post-election crackdown. The deceased have been identified as Mohammad Karami and Mohsen Ruholamini.

Press TV, citing the semi-official ISNA, quotes Sohrab Soleimani, general director of prisons in the central province of Tehran, as saying the 18-year-old and 25-year-old detainees were sick before they arrived at Evin prison.

Meningitis is a potentially fatal disease spread by bacteria transmitted from person to person through respiratory or throat secretions. It is highly contagious.