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Iranian journalist accuses "Killers"

By Justin Huggler
The Independent (London)
December 1, 2000

AKBAR GANJI, Iran's hugely popular investigative journalist, publicly named for the first time yesterday the senior figures he accuses of being behind a series of murders secretly ordered by the state in 1998. Photo here

Mr Ganji's sensational allegations came from the dock. He is on trial for "endangering state security" for attending a conference in Berlin on President Mohammad Khatami's reform movement.

Mr Ganji's investigations into state-sponsored killings have made him a hero in Iran and a leading reformer. His books, including The Dungeon of Ghosts, which details his investigations into the killings, dominate Iran's bestseller lists.

Yesterday he named three figures he accuses of being behind five killings in 1998. In November that year, a dissident couple were found stabbed to death in their home. In the next month, three more intellectuals were murdered.

The first name Mr Ganji gave yesterday - the former intelligence minister Ali Fallahian - has been linked to the murders but never publicly accused in Iran. The second name - Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi - has never been linked to the killings before. Ayatollah Yazdi, a leading hardliner, is one of the most hated men in Iran.

Mr Ganji accused Mr Fallahian of directly ordering the killings but only charged Ayatollah Yazdi with indirectly sanctioning them. "Mesbah (Yazdi) said everybody who insulted sanctities must be killed without trial," Mr Ganji told the court.

The third man named was Tehran's deputy chief justice, Gholamhossein Mohavi Ejei, whom he linked to one killing.

Mr Ganji denies the charges against him and says he is being punished for exposing the state's role in the killings.


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