International press watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called Thursday for a fair and open trial of 18 men accused of killing several leading dissidents and intellectuals in Iran.
The assassinations, blamed on a network of "rogue" agents within the secret police, and the controversy that has dogged the case, have underscored the still explosive political tension in the country.
RSF said it "hoped that promises made by President Mohammed Khatami, which include keeping the people informed of court developments, will be respected."
The latest bombshell came Wednesday, when families of the victims reportedly dismissed their lawyers and announced they would not attend the trial, being held in a Tehran military court.
RSF said the victim's families should have access to all court documents.
The drama began in November 1998, when secular opposition leader Dariush Foruhar and his wife, Parvaneh, were stabbed to death in their Tehran apartment.
Within weeks, three leading writers outspoken in their demands for greater freedom of expression in Islamic Iran -- Majid Sharif, Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Pouyandeh -- were also found murdered.
The military court has yet to announce whether it will agree to requests that the public be allowed to attend the trial -- TEHRAN (AFP)
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