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Murderers of Iranian dissidents to face public trial

TEHRAN, Jan 20 (AFP) - The alleged murderers of Iranian intellectuals and dissidents will be put on public trial shortly, a military official announced Wednesday.

"They will be tried in public and can have a defense lawyer," a prosecutor of the Tehran military tribunal Mohammad Niazi said in an interview broadcast on state television.

The authorities say 10 people have been arrested in connection with the murders of nationalist opposition leader Daryush Foruhar, his wife, Parvaneh, and two writers.

The murders have been blamed on rogue intelligence ministry agents and a military court is presently investigating the case.

Niazi said however that the murderers "had acted without the knowledge of their superiors at the intelligence ministry."

"They had by-passed the ministerial hierarchy as well as their superiors because they knew they would stop them," he said, adding that "other persons outside the intelligence ministry are also involved" in the crimes.

Niazi said "many suspects arrested have been released while others are on the run and are being sought."

"The involvement of other suspects is not out of the question, and details will be published in due course," he said.

But the prosecutor said the murderers "do not belong to any political faction within the regime."

The murders, which took place in November and December, provoked a war of words between supporters of President Mohammad Khatami and his hardline conservative opponents.

Iranian reformers have demanded the resignation of Intelligence Minister Qorban-Ali Dorrie Najafabadi, while the hardliners have accused Khatami's allies of having a hand in the killings.


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