Iran's Supreme Leader Sacks Head of National Police

Published June 28th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sacked on Tuesday the hardline national police chief held responsible by the powerful reform movement for provoking last July's bloody social unrest, reported Iran News Agency (IRNA).  

The agency said that Khamenei had ordered the removal of Brigadier General Hedayat Lotfian as head of the law enforcement forces.  

Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, of the elite Revolutionary Guards, was appointed in his place.  

"Under Brigadier General Hedayat Loftian, there were valuable and exceptional efforts to improve the police force," IRNA quoted the leader as saying.  

However, student activists and their allies in the broader reform movement blame Lotfian for the bloody assault on July 8th-9th on a peaceful pro-democracy demonstration at the Tehran University hostels.  

Police officers and plainclothes vigilantes attacked the demonstrators with clubs and chains and then ran riot through the university dormitories, beating many students as they slept, reported Reuters on Tuesday.  

The attack touched off six days of the worst social unrest since the aftermath of the 1979 revolution and shook the pillars of the Islamic Republic.  

Authorities have confirmed one death in the melee and ensuing street protests, but there are persistent reports that at least five demonstrators may have been killed, said Reuters.  

Recently, judiciary officials handed over the body of street peddler who was killed in the final day of troubles. His family had searched for news of their son for almost one year.  

At the time, students demonstrators demanded Lotfian be sacked -- some even called for his execution, added Reuters.  

Lotfian has never faced any charges but his deputy, the head of the Tehran police force, is awaiting sentencing for his part in the attack on the student hostels, according to the agency - (Several Sources)  

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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