Trial Resumes of Accused Assassins of Leading Iranian Dissidents
The controversial closed-door trial for the 1998 assassinations of several leading Iranian dissidents blamed on "rogue" secret agents resumed Sunday, one day after the lead suspect reportedly confessed in court.
"The hearing, which is the fourth, is being held right now behind closed doors," said Reza Zarandi, spokesman for the Tehran military tribunal where the trial is going on.
In court on Saturday, chief defendant Mostafa Kazemi confessed that he had ordered the killings, the state-run news agency IRNA said.
The report said the number two defendant, named as Mehrdad Alikhani, also began his defence in Saturday's session for the killings, which authorities have blamed on "rogue" intelligence agents.
Controversy has dogged the case from the very beginning, when secular nationalist leader Dariush Foruhar and his wife Parvaneh were found stabbed to death at their Tehran apartment in November 1998.
Within weeks, three writers outspoken in their calls for greater freedom of expression in Islamic Iran -- Majid Sharif, Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Pouyandeh -- were also assassinated.
The killings shocked Iranian society, sparking protests both here and abroad and dealing a setback to President Mohammad Khatami's efforts to present a new image of Iran on the international stage.
Authorities in January 1999 announced that a network of "rogue" secret agents had carried out the murders but had done so without the knowledge of their superiors in the intelligence ministry -- TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)