Reformist MPs decry acquittal of police for attack
TEHRAN, July 12 (AFP) - MPs and other politicians close to reformist
President Mohammad Khatami Wednesday decried a court verdict in which the
former police chief of Tehran and 17 other police were acquitted for a
bloody assault on Tehran University last year.
On Tuesday, a military court acquitted the former Tehran police chief,
Farhad Nazari, and his men of all charges against them arising from the
attack he led on university dormitories last July, which sparked several
days of riots that led to deaths and injuries.
"We weep for justice and for the law," said MP Mohammad Rezai,
who represents the western town of Bijar.
"I myself was imprisoned for four years and exiled several years
ago for having written four lines of satire," he said. "Compare
the two verdicts (and) see the degree of the discrimination, of the abuse."
Rezai pointed out that Nazari "had clearly confessed to entering
the precincts of the university residences."
Yet the police chief, who had been charged with giving the order for
the attack, disobeying the directives of the interior ministry and creating
an atmosphere of mistrust towards the police, was acquitted.
Qorbanali Qandahari, an MP for the northern town of Gorgan, said "the
verdict does not match up to" the seriousness of events. He said a
lot of aspects of the case had still not been cleared up.
Tehran deputy Ali Akbar Musavi-Khoieni, remarked: "The only thing
I would say to (the court) is that I hope that it is not too tired at having
issued such a verdict after a whole year."
Musavi-Khoieni, a member of the left-wing Mosharekat party lead by President
Mohammad Khatami's brother, Mohammad-Reza, also called for the early publication
of a report by Iran's high security council on violent incidents that occurred
at the University of Tabriz last summer.
Abbas Abdi, a Mosharekat party member but not an MP, asked ironically
why those charged had "not been given medals and asked why they had
not struck even harder."
"Now the only thing we have to wait for is for them to be promoted
and given free housing," he added.
Asked whether the court's leniency might lead to a reaction by students,
Abdi said: "If I made the slightest forecast, I would be accused afterwards
of inciting the students to act."
The attack on the student dorm on July 8, 1999, officially left one
person dead, a young conscript on leave, and injured 34. Rioting subsequently
spread through Tehran and the provinces, resulting in a further two fatalities,
according to official reports.
The unrest was eventually put down on July 13, after the intervention
of the Bassiji, or Islamic volunteer militia, who act under the authority
of the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
A total of 1,500 students were arrested in connection with the rioting.
Last year four of the ringleaders were condemned to death, but their sentences
were later commuted to life imprisonment. They have appealed to the supreme
court against their sentences.