Former police chief acquitted
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - A military court acquitted a former Tehran police
chief Tuesday of ordering the storming of a student hostel that left one
person dead, Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. Photo here
The acquittal of Brig. Gen. Farhad Nazari and 17 other fellow police
officers was promptly condemned by a liberal member of parliament and a
Two other policemen were convicted in the trial, one for taking part
in the July 1999 raid and another for stealing from the Tehran University
The pre-dawn raid left one student dead and at least 20 injured. It
took place after students at the hostel had mounted a small demonstration
against the closure of a reformist newspaper.
The brutality of the raid caused a public outcry and triggered the biggest
demonstrations seen in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Nazari was found not guilty of ordering policemen to enter the dormitory,
disobeying orders and tarnishing the image of the police.
After the verdict was announced, one of the acquitted police officers
walked up to Nazari, embraced him and covered his shoulders with a chafieh,
a cloth usually worn by hard-line vigilantes.
Police officer Farhad Arjomandi was sentenced to two years in prison
for ignoring orders and beating students during the raid. His colleague
Orjali Babrzadeh was sentenced to 91 days in prison and fined $125 dollars
for stealing an electric shaver from the dormitory.
Liberal legislator Rajab Mazrouei, said the verdict delivered no justice
to the victims of the raid.
``Then, who attacked the students? Was it invisible forces who savagely
stormed the dormitory? This verdict causes irreparable damage to the judiciary's
credibility in the eyes of the public,'' Mazrouei told The Associated Press.
A member of the Office for Fostering Unity, the largest pro-reform student
group, also condemned the verdicts, describing them as ``unjust.''
``This attitude damages public trust and confidence in the judiciary,''
said Ebrahim Sheikh.
The verdict came against the background of a power struggle between
reformists led by President Mohammad Khatami and hard-liners who look for
support to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Hard-liners, who control the judiciary, have closed 19 newspapers and
magazines, most of them pro-reform, and ordered the arrest of several leading
journalists since April.