Iran militants say secret agents tortured in jail
TEHRAN, Jan 8 (Reuters) - A group of Islamic militants have accused
senior clerics close to Iran's supreme leader of involvement in the cover-up
of alleged torture against secret agents involved in the serial murders
The Basij militia and the Partizans of God, seen as fiercely loyal to
supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the hardline establishment, said
in a statement that intelligence ministry officials implicated in the murders
case were tortured into confessing to being sexually perverted Israeli
Saeed Emami, a former deputy intelligence minister, was tortured into
confessing to homosexuality, incest and being an Israeli agent, the statement
His wife was lashed until she confessed to having sex with her son and
husband's friends, it added.
"The interrogators would get her to confess to sex with men her
husband brought home and to which of them satisfied her most...Nobody would
believe such forms of torture take place in Iran without seeing the documents.
"The masterminds of the serial murders have done everything to
cover their tracks and put themselves at ease by saying the murders were
carried out by foreign agents," the statement said.
Eighteen men have been charged with murdering nationalists Darioush
and Parvaneh Forouhar, and writers Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Jafar
Pouyandeh in the autumn of 1998.
Reformists say the four killings were among more than 80 murders and
"disappearances" stretching over 10 years as part of a wider
campaign by state-sponsored death squads to silence opposition.
The hardline judge presiding over the military court ordered the trials
to be held behind closed doors, citing national security concerns. Only
scant details of the proceedings have emerged.
"We veterans of the (1980-88 Iran-Iraq) war, and the true Partizans
of God plead with the leader to take a stance in the case of the murders,"
said the statement by members of the Basij militia, an offshoot of Iran's
Revolutionary Guards, and the more informal "Partizans."
Their statement could signal a rift in their organisations by a faction
angry at the alleged torture of their mentors and its subsequent cover-up
by their nominal "allies."
DEATH IN CUSTODY
Emami, the most senior government agent arrested in connection with
the killings, died in custody after drinking hair remover. Many Iranians,
reformists and hardliners, question the official coroner's verdict of suicide.
The statement points fingers at Mohammad Niazi, a cleric now in charge
of the military courts, and Ali-Asghar Hejazi, a senior cleric at Khamenei's
office for helping orchestrate a cover-up.
Khamenei had earlier said in a widely publicised prayer sermon that
foreign powers carried out the murders in order to defame the Iranian government.
Niazi's four interrogators, accused of torture and preparing a detailed
80-page account linking intelligence agents to Israel, were under Khamenei's
protection and one was saved from arrest by the direct intervention of
Hejazi, the statement said.
All confessions had been videotaped and were to have been broadcast
by state television in what would have been an attempt to further weaken
the intelligence ministry which has promised reform under embattled President
Reformers say many of the tortured suspects were only released after
much lobbying by the intelligence minister and Khatami's threat to resign.
The moderate Khatami swept to power in 1997 promising to ensure freedom
of speech and the rule of law, but with new elections looming in June has
little to show for his efforts.