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Iran Officials Arrested in Slayings

By Afshin Valinejad

Tuesday, January 5, 1999

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran has arrested a number of Intelligence Ministry officials in the slayings of five dissidents, the ministry acknowledged Tuesday -- a rare admission of official complicity in the killings of government opponents.

The five writers and opposition figures killed late last year were all critical of the government's hard-line clergymen, who are trying to stymie the social and political reforms of moderate President Mohammad Khatami.

Thousands of students and intellectuals demonstrated at the time to protest the killings. They also called for the dismissal of Iranian intelligence officials.

In a statement given to the official Islamic Republic News Agency, the Intelligence Ministry said Tuesday it had arrested a number of ministry officials in the killings. It did not say how many.

The ministry announced ``with regret'' that ``a few of our colleagues -- irresponsible, devious and obstinate persons -- were among those arrested.''

``With no doubt these criminals were acting for the interests of foreigners and the actions of these traitors are quite contrary to the holy mission of the Intelligence Ministry and we condemn it,'' the statement said.

The statement did not say which foreign countries were involved in the killings. It accused the detained ministry officials of ``destroying the reputation of the Islamic Republic of Iran.''

The first of the five victims, Dariush Foruhar and his wife Parvaneh, belonged to a minor opposition party. They were found stabbed to death in their Tehran home on Nov. 22.

In the following weeks, writers Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh and Mohammad Mokhtari disappeared and their bodies were found dumped on the outskirts of Tehran. They appeared to have been strangled. Both men had tried to set up a writer's association.

A third writer, Majid Sharif, was found dead after disappearing from his home.

Khatami has ordered a top-level investigation into the killings.


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