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Reformist MPs decry acquittal of police for attack on university

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.



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