Hikers’ attorney upbeat on verdict

Elkins Park native Josh Fattal and fellow American Shane Bauer finally had their day in an Iranian court, coincidentally on the two-year anniversary of their imprisonment on espionage and illegal entry charges.

No verdict was issued yesterday in the highly suspect case against the men, jailed after their arrest July 31, 2009, while hiking along the Iraq-Iran border. Their attorney, Masoud Shafii, told French press organization AFP that Iranian law requires a ruling within a week of trial.

“The court session ended, the judge announced the end of proceedings, I did a complete defence, Josh and Shane did so also and I also defended Sarah. The court will issue its ruling in a week,” Shafii said, noting “reliance on God” for a fair verdict.

Shafii seemed confident the verdict would be a good one for the young Americans when he talked of the trial to AFP Wednesday.

“I believe that they are innocent. The espionage charges have no relevance. Even if the court does not accept my defense, the two years they’ve spent behind bars is punishment enough,” Shafii said of the illegal entry charge.

After the hearing, held 2 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, the families of Fattal and Bauer said “we are pleased that today’s hearing was the final session in the case. We pray that the Iranian authorities will show compassion to Shane and Josh.”