An Iranian MP on Tuesday repeated his call for the rehabilitation of a dissident cleric who has been under house arrest since 1989 after being passed over to become the nation's supreme leader.
Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, who dropped a political bombshell on the clerical regime by releasing his memoirs on the internet earlier this month, should be released, MP Mostafa Taheri Najafabadi said.
He told parliament he hoped that "the restrictions against Ayatollah Montazeri will be lifted" to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, echoing a similar call he made in October.
Montazeri was elected in 1985 to succeed the founder of Islamic Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but was pushed aside and replaced by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nation's current supreme leader.
Since 1989 he has lived under house arrest in the holy city of Qom, 125 kilometers (80 miles) south of Tehran, and has been barred from receiving visitors.
Montazeri has often used his sons as mouthpieces to get his dissident views in circulation, but his son, Said, was reportedly arrested earlier this month for distributing a controversial report on the 1998 assassinations of several dissidents and intellectuals.
The trial for the killings, which were blamed on "rogue" intelligence agents and shocked Iranian society, began last week.
On his British-based website, Montazeri alleged that he tried in 1988 -- the year before he was pushed aside -- to prevent the summary execution of thousands of Khomeini opponents.
The Tehran Times reported Tuesday that the site had been closed because of "certain problems."
After the site opened, the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran accused top Iranian officials -- including current President Mohammad Khatami -- of "crimes against humanity" for the execution of thousands of opposition figures that year.
Meanwhile a Khatami spokesman denied press reports last week that the president's chief-of-staff had outraged conservative clerics by holding a "secret" meeting with another of Montazeri's sons -- TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)