Dow Jones Business News April 13, 1997

Austria Parties Demand New Probe Of Iran Kurd Killings

VIENNA -- The 1989 murders in Vienna of three top Kurdish politicians in exile should be reexamined following a Berlin court's ruling that such killings were ordered by top Iranian leaders, opposition parties demanded Sunday.

On July 13, 1989, the leader of the outlawed Iranian wing of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran and two of his associates were shot and killed in a Vienna apartment.

An official Iranian envoy who had come from Tehran to Vienna for a meeting with the Kurds was seriously wounded in the shootout.

Iranian state media said at the time that the envoy was meeting Kurdish politician Abdul Rahman Qassemlou because Qassemlou was seeking amnesty for Iraqi Kurds being evicted from Iraq.

The Vienna murderers were never caught. International arrest warrants for three named suspects remain in force.

The Austrian widow of one of the three murdered Kurds has alleged that Austria failed to apprehend the killers because Iran put pressure on the Vienna government over a then ongoing trial and scandal concerning illegal weapons sales to Iran.

Sunday, the small Liberal Forum demanded that a special parliamentary committee investigate the handling of the 1989 killings. A spokeswoman for the Greens echoed the demand and also said Austria should refrain from deporting any Iranian seeking political asylum. Interior Minister Karl Schloegl later said that no one is deported to Iran because of the danger of persecution.

In a series of interviews in weekend newspapers, top police official Michael Sika notably failed to confirm that the investigation into the 1989 killings was properly handled.