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Iran shooting suspect says duped by accomplice

TEHRAN, May 3 (Reuters) - A main suspect in the attempted assassination of a leading Iranian reformer said in court on Wednesday he had been misled by an accomplice to take part in the shooting, Iran 's official IRNA news agency reported.

"In the beginning we believed that (Mohammad Ali) Moqaddami was concerned about the system and Islam, but we found out later that we had been fooled by him," 29-year-old Mohsen Majidi said.

Majidi and Moqaddami are among eight suspects on trial in the revolutionary court for the shooting in March of reform strategist and presidential aide Saeed Hajjarian, who is convalescing after being released from hospital on Tuesday.

A prosecution official told the court the defendants were Moslem activists who had originally set up a group to fight drugs and help enforce Iran 's Islamic social regulations.

A court-appointed psychiatrist testified that tests showed the defendants were sane, but that one of them had a personality disorder, IRNA said.

The court last week began hearing the case against the eight young men, including the man accused of pulling the trigger in the gangland-style shooting that left Hajjarian with a bullet lodged near his spinal chord.

Gunman Saeed Asgar told the court during that hearing that he meant only to send a warning to Hajjarian when he pumped a single slug into his head at close range.

Reformist allies of Hajjarian, one of the leading lights of the movement for change grouped around President Mohammad Khatami, suggest the young men on trial may be scapegoats for the masterminds of the attack.

They blame hardline clerics for painting Hajjarian as an apostate for his progressive views on Islam and civil society, creating an atmosphere in which young fanatics felt it was acceptable to gun him down.

The trial will resume next Tuesday.


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