Iran Arrests Distributors of Report on Dissident Killings
Iran has arrested several people charged with distributing an 80-page report which implicates a number of authorities in the shock 1998 serial murders of several dissidents and intellectuals, press reports said Thursday.
The centrist Entekhab paper cited Intelligence Minister Ali Yunessi as saying that several people, accused of distributing the undercover "night letter", had been identified and arrested recently.
Yunessi gave no further details on the number of people involved or their identities, but said the arrests had not been made in Tehran.
Two other people have already been arrested in the central city of Qom in connection with the letters the paper said.
Nationalist political leader Dariush Forouhar and his wife Parvaneh were assassinated in their Tehran apartment in late 1998, shortly followed by three writers who fought vigorously for the freedom of expression -- Majid Sharif, Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Pouyandeh.
The judiciary said last week that 18 people -- three principals and 15 accomplices -- would be tried for the killings, adding that the judge of the revolutionary court would decide whether the trial would be open.
Authorities blamed the killings on "rogue" agents of the intelligence ministry, which acknowledged blame but denied that its top officials had any connection to the murders.
The alleged mastermind, Said Emami, was reported to have committed suicide in prison in June 1999.
The trial begins December 23 at Tehran's military court.
On Monday Iran's largest reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, called for the courts to make the trial public, adding that the case was a "big test" for the conservative-run judiciary.
Investigative journalist Akbar Ganji has been charged in connection with a book and articles he wrote in a since-banned newspaper on the serial murders, linking them to former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani – TEHRAN (AFP)
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