New police chief appointed to Iranian capital
TEHRAN, Aug 25 (AFP) - The head of Iran's police force, General Hedayat
Lotfian, officially appointed Wednesday a replacement for the commander
of Tehran's metropolitan police force, sacked for his role in last month's
General Mohsen Ansari, 50, until now deputy chief of the national police
force, took over from General Farhad Nazari, who was slated for "incompetence"
in handling the unrest.
Ansari was quoted by the press Wednesday as saying the heavy-handed
police reaction to student protests, which sparked the worst riots since
the 1979 Islamic revolution, was "arbitrary" and carried out
"with no coordination" with police superiors.
"The police should not be blamed for the mistakes of several of
its officers," he said.
An investigation by the Supreme National Security Council, the highest
security body in Iran, cleared Hedayat of any wrongdoing in the "blunder."
But it accused "several high-ranking officers" and Moslem
militants of "provocation" and "direct involvement"
in the unrest, which followed a crackdown on university students protesting
the closure of a pro-reform newspaper.
The riots left three dead, according to official sources, and led to
some 1,400 arrests among student and opposition organisations in Tehran
and the provincial capital of Tabriz.
Protesting students had called for the dismissal of Lotfian, a career
officer close to the country's conservatives, whom they accused of having
ordered the police attack on the university campus in the Amirabad district
The Council inquiry singled out for blame "the chief of the Tehran
police and six of his deputy commanders from special units as well as a
number of members of the special units."
It criticised the "provocative attitude" of the students and
"their illegal gatherings," but said Lotfian had given no orders
for the attack on the dormitory. It said the raid was "not ordered
by the upper ranks of the police nor by other bodies concerned."
Nazari was dismissed immediately after the riots, press reports said.
Interior Minister Abdolvahed Musavi-Lari has said the files on the police
officers implicated in the unrest had been "handed over to the justice
system for judgement and punishment."