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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 3 Dec 1998 to 4 Dec 1998
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There are 28 messages totalling 1187 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO KILLINGS
2. Iran has "very stable" political framework: foreign minister
3. New reformist Iranian paper hits the streets
4. Iran to set up oil refinery in India
5. Iraq remembers those killed in bloody war with Iran
6. Iran worried by Israel-Turkey alliance
7. Iran calls on refugees to go home
8. Iran to raise domestic petrol prices next April
9. More bad news for Iran economy as non-oil exports down
10. Saudi Arabia not behind drop in oil prices: Iranian ambassador
11. US not ready for relations with Iran: Iranian FM
12. UAE renews calls for ICJ ruling in dispute with Iran
13. Iran begins first phase of Gulf naval maneuvers
14. Esfahan seeks to woo back foreign tourists
15. Six Afghan drug smugglers killed in clash with Iranian security forces
16. Iran to deport Iraqi, Afghan refugees
17. Iran reaffirms claim over disputed Gulf islands
18. Iran's Islamic militia stages "urban manoeuvres"
19. Marriage turning into a crisis for young Iranians
20. Iran's naval maneuvers begin
21. Omanis observing Iranian military maneuvers in Gulf
22. Iran Remains a Drug Problem Country
23. Iran: Maneuvers not about islands
24. Iran warns Taliban to stop drug trafficking
25. Human rights suffer in polarized Iran: report
26. "Corrupt" businessman hanged in Iran
27. Iranian police prevent march to protest murder of opposition leader
28. Two Iranians executed

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 23:19:41 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO KILLINGS

* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
International *
News Service: 238/98
AI INDEX: MDE 13/23/98
3 DECEMBER 1998

PUBLIC STATEMENT

IRAN

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO KILLINGS

Amnesty International has been alarmed by the recent killings of two
prominent government critics -- as well as by other recent events -- in
the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The human rights organization calls upon the Iranian authorities to
undertake immediate, independent investigations into these events, in
accordance with United Nations "Principles on the Effective Prevention
and Investigation of Extra-Legal Arbitrary and Summary Executions", and
to make public the findings of any such investigations. Attacks against
critics of the government within Iran have rarely been subject to
impartial and open investigation in the past.

Amnesty International has been dismayed by the killings of Dariyush
Foruhar, a prominent critic of the government of the Islamic Republic of
Iran, and his wife, Parvaneh Foruhar, at their home in Tehran on 22
November 1998.

Dariyush Foruhar, who served as Minister of Labour in the Provisional
Government of Mehdi Bazargan in 1979, was the leader of the Iran Nation
Party (Hezb-e Mellat-e Iran), a banned but tolerated opposition group.
Parvaneh Foruhar was also a prominent opposition activist. Unlike many
opposition figures, Darius Foruhar remained in Iran following the
establishment of the Islamic Republic, and often criticised the
authorities, especially on human rights issues.

Although it is unclear at present who was responsible for the killings,
described by President Mohammad Khatami as a "repulsive crime", and
although the Interior Minister Abdolvahed Musavi-Lari has stated that
"the government is determined to get to the root of the matter and deal
with the culprits whoever they may be or whatever their position",
associates of Dariyush Foruhar have expressed their belief that the
killings may have been politically motivated.

In a separate incident, the body of Majid Sharif, a translator and
journalist, was identified in a Tehran mortuary on 24 November 1998 by
one of his brothers, who had been summoned by officials. The coroner's
report cited "heart failure" as the cause of death.

Majid Sharif had left home on 20 November 1998, having told his family
that he planned to travel to the city of Mashhad to attend the funeral
of a prominent cleric. His family became concerned when he failed to
return. Majid Sharif formerly contributed to the journal Iran-e Farda,
which was banned earlier this year and reportedly wrote articles
advocating the separation of state and religion. According to other
reports he had been questioned on several occasions by officials of the
Ministry of Information in connection with his political views.

Amnesty International has also received unconfirmed reports suggesting
that the mother of Pirouz Davani, another critic of the Iranian
government who went missing in August 1998, was recently contacted by
unnamed persons who told her that her son had been killed.She reportedly
suffered a fatal heart attack as a result of this news. Amnesty
International has written to the Iranian government asking for
clarification of the status of Pirouz Davani. To date, Amnesty
International has received no reply to this request.

The organization is also concerned by reports that Dr. Sayed 'Ali Asghar
Gharavi, a member of the unofficial Iran Freedom Movement (Nehzat-e
Azadi-ye Iran), was arrested in the city of Esfahan on the basis of a
warrant reportedly issued by the Special Court for the Clergy (Dadgah-e
Vizhe-ye Ruhaniyat), the proceedings of which fall short of minimum
international standards for fair trial. On the same day another member
of the Iran Freedom Movement, 'Ali Ghofrani, was reportedly arrested in
the town of Na'in, near Esfahan.

It remains unclear whether 'Ali Asghar Gharavi and 'Ali Ghofrani have as
yet been formally charged with any recognized criminal offence. Amnesty
International calls upon the Iranian authorities to release them if they
their detention is solely a result of the non-violent expression of
their political beliefs.

Amnesty International is concerned that recent events may represent a
trend towards targeting of opposition figures. While not seeking to
apportion blame, the organization would remind the Iranian authorities
of their duty to ensure the protection of the lives of all citizens of
the Islamic Republic of Iran, in accordance with the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a state
party. Article 6 of the ICCPR states: "Every human being has the
inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one
shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life."
ENDS.../
Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street,
WC1X 8DJ, London, United Kingdom
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------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:21:32 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran has "very stable" political framework: foreign minister

ROME, Dec 3 (AFP) - Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi on
Thursday defended Iran's political framework as "very stable" and
called concerns about its political future unfounded.
In Rome on an official visit, Kharazi, who is considered a
moderate politician close to President Mohamed Khatami, said it was
"strange" that "the vivid political debate prevailing in Iran leads
to thoughts of instability while, in western countries, it is a sign
of health."
"We interpret the vivacity of the political debate, as seen in
the expression of differing views in the press, as an expression of
the government's strong stability".
"In truth," he added, "Iran is a very solid island in the middle
of very rough waters".
"There are no divergences in Iran on the dialogue between
civilisations" that Tehran has undertaken with the West, he said.
But Kharazi added that there can be no real "dialogue" with the
United States "as long as hostility and interference continue".
Tehran and Washington broke diplomatic ties in 1980 after
Iranian revolutionaries stormed the US embassy here and took its
staff hostage.
Iran accuses the United States of meddling in its domestic
affairs, while Washington accuses Tehran of sponsoring international
terrorism, seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction and
undermine the Middle East peace process.
While the two enemies have slightly warmed to each other in the
past year since moderate Khatami called for greater contact between
the two nations, the Islamic republic has rejected repeated US
offers to begin normalizing ties.
"The United States has maybe changed its tone a little but their
hostile policies toward Iran continue," Kharazi said.
A dialogue can only be founded on two conditions: "mutual
respect" and "parity of relations", he stressed.
Asked about the Lebanese Shiite Moslem guerrilla movement
Hezbollah and its ties to Iran, Kharazi said the relations "are
similar to ties with other groups present in Lebanon" and they "do
not signify Iranian interference in Lebanon".
"When Israel unconditionally leaves south Lebanon, this will be
the result of the Hezbollah action. Each Lebanese is proud of the
Hezbollah resistance to occupation," he said.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:21:41 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: New reformist Iranian paper hits the streets

TEHRAN, Dec 3 (AFP) - The first edition of reformist newspaper
Khordad, run by a close associate of President Mohammad Khatami, hit
Tehran's news stands on Thursday.
The paper takes its name from the date Khatami was elected in
May 1997.
The 12-page colour newspaper is run by former interior minister
Abdollah Nuri, who was ousted in June after a censure motion by the
conservative dominated parliament amid a tense power struggle
between the regime's moderate and hardline factions.
Nuri is now vice president for development and social affairs, a
post that does not require parliamentary approval.
Iran's newspapers continue to flourish although the press has
come under increasing pressure from the conservative-dominated
judiciary after a period of relative openness following Khatami's
election.
A number of papers have been closed down, most notably Tous, an
outspoken and often humorous paper that briefly became one of the
country's most popular publications.
Khordad aims to be "the journal for men, women and children in
Iran but also those beyond our borders whose hearts continue to beat
for Iran," it said in an editorial.
The paper, with a print run of around 100,000, said it wants to
"promote the humanist values of Islam (while remaining) faithful to
the aims of the revolution: independence, freedom and the Islamic
republic."

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:21:54 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran to set up oil refinery in India

NEW DELHI, India, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The National Iranian Oil Co. will
set up an oil refinery in India's southern city of Chennai.
Company officials said the $500 million refinery would have an annual
capacity of 3 million tons of oil.
The company plans to set up four projects across India, including a
$400 million power station with a capacity of 350 megawatts.
Iranian companies plan to invest in India in a big way since New
Delhi has opened its energy sector to private foreign investment.


------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:22:13 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iraq remembers those killed in bloody war with Iran

BAGHDAD, Dec 1 (AFP) - Iraq on Tuesday held ceremonies to
remember those killed during its bloody eight-year war with Iran and
said it was ready to face up to "all new attacks."
As a fanfare played, Iraqi number two Ezzat Ibrahim laid a
wreath at the martyr's monument in Baghdad, an immense blue dome in
the shape of a heart split in two.
The ceremony was also attended by Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister
Tareq Aziz, political and military officials and members of the
diplomatic community.
At 8:00 a.m., all work stopped for five minutes. The mosques'
loudspeakers broadcast "Allah Akbar" (God is great) and church bells
rang.
People wore flowers in their buttonholes to mark the occasion
while the first hour of lessons in schools and universities was
given over to remembrance.
The war between Iraq and Iran from 1980 to 1988 left several
hundred thousand people dead.
"Our enemies, the Americans, the Zionists and their agents well
know that the Iraqis who sacrificed thousands of martyrs during the
war with Iran and the Gulf War (1991) and in the fight against the
embargo are today determined to face up to all new attacks," the
Al-Qadissiya newspaper said in an editorial.
Iraq narrowly avoided US and British military strikes November
14 when it resumed cooperation with UN weapons inspectors.
But UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Monday warned Iraq would
have to face up "very quickly" to a military strike by the United
States and Britain if a new crisis breaks out over UN weapons
inspections.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:22:21 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran worried by Israel-Turkey alliance

TEHRAN, Iran, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Iranian President Mohammed Khatami has
expressed concern over what he describes as an Israeli presence near his
country's border due to an Israeli-Turkish security alliance.
At a meeting in Tehran with visiting Greek development minister Vasso
Papandreou on Monday night, Khatami said Tehran is aware of Athens'
concern over the Israeli-Turkish alliance and is worried about the
increasing Israeli presence in the region, especially near the border.
Khatami said, ``We have repeatedly expressed our worries to our
friends in Turkey.''
Iran has repeatedly lodged protests to Ankara for its alliance with
the Jewish state that enables Israel to use Turkish airbases near the
Iranian frontier.
Khatami advised Turkey to cooperate with its regional neighbors
rather than Israel, which he accused of ``bad intentions and attempting
to achieve expansionist goals.''
Meanwhile, the Iranian president expressed the hope that Greece,
Turkey and Cyprus could solve their dispute by peaceful means.
Papandreou handed Khatami a letter from his Greek counterpart and
said Athens is ready to increase political, cultural and economic ties
with Iran and was interested in investment projects.
Papandreou arrived in Tehran last Friday, accompanied by an economic
delegation. The two countries signed a number of accords meant to boost
economic and tourism cooperation.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:22:32 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran calls on refugees to go home

TEHRAN, Dec 1 (AFP) - Iranian Interior Minister Abdulvahid
Musavi Lari called on Tuesday for the "organised return of all
refugees," notably Afghans, to their homes.
"The government wishes to pave the way for the return of all
refugees residing in Iran, within the framework of a plan of
action," Musavi Lari was quoted by state radio as saying.
He said the presence of these "temporary guests" was an
increasingly heavy burden for the country, currently facing
recession and high unemployment.
Iran has played host for the past 20 years to around two million
refugees, according to generally accepted figures, notably from Iraq
and Afghanistan, where the 1980 Soviet invasion and ensuing civil
wars have sparked an exodus.
The refugees are living mostly in camps distributed around the
provinces, but several hundred thousand others are living and
working here illegally.
About a million refugees returned to Afghanistan in 1992 with
the help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), following
the fall of the Soviet-backed communist regime in Kabul.
But the operations have ceased since the hardline Sunni Moslem
Taliban militia took over most of Afghanistan in 1996.
Many refugees fear persecution or worse if they return, while
Shiite Moslem Iran is itself hostile to the extremist militia, which
killed nine Iranian nationals in the northern Afghanistan town of
Mazar-i-Sharif in August.
Iran formally gave illegal Afghan refugees a three-week deadline
from the end of October to leave the country, but there have been no
further announcements since the deadline ran out on November 21.
The Taliban in early November called on the United Nations to
prevent the expulsion of refugees from Iran and warned of "tragic"
consequences if they returned because there were no resources to
rehabilitate them.
Iranian authorities have reinforced security measures on the
border with Afghanistan to prevent more refugees from arriving, and
to prepare for the repatriation of those already in the country.
Police in Iran's northeastern Khurasan province have also begun
over the past few weeks to round up Afghans without valid residence
papers.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:22:46 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran to raise domestic petrol prices next April

TEHRAN, Dec 1 (AFP) - Iran, the world's second largest oil
producer, confirmed Tuesday it would raise petrol prices for private
vehicles next April.
Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said drivers will pay the
current subsidised price of 200 rials (eight cents at the official
exchange rate) per litre for the first 45 litres of fuel consumed
every month, with any extra fuel costing 750 rials (25 cents) per
litre.
The price hikes, which must be approved by parliament, do not
apply to public transport, taxis, or military and government
vehicles.
Zanganeh said the government hopes to save an annual 250 million
dollars which the government spends to import oil products for
domestic use.
The proposal is part of reformist President Mohammad Khatami's
austerity budget for the Iranian fiscal year beginning next March,
which he presented to parliament Sunday.
Iran, hard hit by the steady fall in oil prices over the past
months, has been forced to review government expenditures and its
policy of heavy subsidies for basic goods, maintained since the 1979
revolution as part of its commitments to lower income groups.
Though a major crude exporter, the country is forced to import
an annual 300 million dollars' worth of refined oil products to
satisfy domestic consumption.
The move to raise prices has been controversial. Many here
consider it as necessary to balance the budget and put a break on
uncontrolled and wasteful consumption, while others think it a
signal for another round of general price hikes in a country already
gripped by inflation.
Unofficial estimates put the current inflation rater between 35
and 40 percent.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:22:54 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: More bad news for Iran economy as non-oil exports down

TEHRAN, Dec 1 (AFP) - Iran's non-oil exports have fallen nearly
three billion dollars below expectations for the current fiscal
year, an Iranian official said Tuesday, bringing further bad news
for the Islamic republic's faltering economy.
Customs Director Mehdi Karbassian said non-petroleum exports
would reach just three billion dollars for the fiscal year that ends
in March and not the 5.7 billion as planned in the budget.
Low demand and stiff competition on world markets accounted for
the shortfall, said Karbassian, quoted by the official IRNA news
agency.
The fall in non-oil exports has increased the nation's
dependence on oil revenues, which have taken a battering as the
price of crude has plummeted worldwide.
Iran is currently facing a 6.3 billion dollar shortfall as
Iranian crude trades at around 11 dollars per barrel, well below the
16 dollar mark provided for in this year's budget.
President Mohammad Khatami presented an austerity budget for
next year to parliament on Sunday that calls for cutbacks in public
expenditures and hikes in petrol prices -- and calculates oil
revenues on a price of 11.80 dollars per barrel.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:23:03 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Saudi Arabia not behind drop in oil prices: Iranian ambassador

RIYADH, Dec 1 (AFP) - Iran's ambassador to Riyadh on Tuesday
denied Saudi Arabia was responsible for the calamitous drop in world
oil prices and said claims to that effect by a fundamentalist Tehran
newspaper did not reflect the government's position.
"The Iranian government does not hold Riyadh responsible for the
price decline," Mohammad Reza Nuri said, cited by the official news
agency SPA.
He stressed "the oil coordination between Iran and Saudi Arabia,
which confirms the solid ties between the two countries."
The Jomhuri Islami paper on Monday accused Saudi Arabia, the
world's leading oil producer, of secretly working to keep crude
prices down in a bid to capture a greater share of the lucrative US
oil market.
"This betrayal is intolerable because other OPEC members have
had to pay the price of this treachery," said the hardline paper.
"This newspaper represents a different philosophy than that of
the Iranian government," Nuri said.
Crude prices have plummeted to their lowest level in a decade,
leaving Iran with a 40 percent decline in oil revenues and a budget
shortfall of some 6.3 billion dollars.
Iranian-Saudi ties have improved considerably since the moderate
Mohammad Khatami was elected president of Iran last year.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:23:09 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: US not ready for relations with Iran: Iranian FM

TURIN, Italy, Dec 1 (AFP) - Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal
Kharazi said Tuesday that the US was "not ready" to resume official
relations with Iran.
Kharazi, on a two-day official visit to Italy, said: "We want
relations based on mutual respect. The US is not ready for this kind
of relations."
He added that Iran "cannot accept relations that hinder our
freedom or our independence."
Speaking in Iran on Sunday, Kharazi said that Iran had no need
of official ties with Washington, which he said wanted relations
"based on its dominance."
Tehran's ties to Rome were, however, "very good, even
exemplary," Kharazi said on Tuesday.
Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, who met Kharazi on
Tuesday, confirmed that relations between the two countries had
"improved," based on "mutual respect and the desire to build
political, economic and cultural cooperation."
In June, the then Italian prime minister Romano Prodi travelled
to Iran at the head of a large delegation, the most important visit
to Iran by a Western statesman in years.
Kharazi's arrival in Italy was marred by around 15 demonstrators
from the main Iraqi opposition group, the National Resistance
Council, who pelted his official convoy with tomatoes.
Police detained the protestors who told AFP they denounced "the
criminal and bloody regime of the mullahs" in Tehran.
Mitra Baghari, a member of the Council, called on
"parliamentarians, intellectuals and free men to protest against the
visit."
He also asked Italy "not to support this regime which carries
out repression and terrorism."
During his Italian visit, Kharazi is set to discuss Italian
investment in Iran and the sale of oil and other Iranian goods to
Italy.
He is also expected to make a speech at a conference on dialogue
between Islam and Christianity.
Italy is Iran's second biggest trade partner in Europe, after
Germany.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:23:20 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: UAE renews calls for ICJ ruling in dispute with Iran

ABU DHABI, Dec 2 (AFP) - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has
renewed a call for a ruling by the International Court of Justice
(ICJ) in the Hague on its territorial dispute with Iran.
"We call again on the Islamic Republic of Iran to a constructive
dialogue or recourse to adjudication by the ICJ," UAE President
Sheikh Zayed ibn Sultan al-Nahyan said late Tuesday.
"Iran's continued occupation of the three islands, Abu Mussa,
the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, does not favour a good atmosphere for
the establishment of relations based on mutual trust between the
region's countries," he said, quoted by the official WAM news
agency.
Abu Mussa, with a population of around 700 Arabs and Iranians,
is claimed by the UAE emirate of Sharjah while the Tunbs were under
the control of Ras Al-Khaimah until Iranian troops moved into the
islands in 1971.
The three islands in the Strait of Hormuz control the world's
main oil supply route.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:23:26 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran begins first phase of Gulf naval maneuvers

TEHRAN, Dec 2 (AFP) - Iran's navy and air force began the
preliminary phase of their military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf
and Oman Sea on Wednesday, a military spokesman said.
Colonel Issa Golvari, quoted by the official news agency IRNA,
said the three-day preliminary exercises are designed to prepare
troops and weapons and put ground-to-sea missile launchers in
place.
He said the main stage of the wargames will begin Sunday.
Military officials said Monday they were planning to test their
latest weapons in the maneuvers near the strategic Straits of Hormuz
in the Gulf.
The five-day Vahdat (Unity)-77 exercises, covering a
20,000-square-kilometer (8,000-square-mile) area, will involve
around 50,000 troops and will employ Russian-made Sukhoi-24 bombers
as well as home-manufactured bombs weighing around 250 pounds (110
kilogrammes).
Iran's navy commander Admiral Abbas Mohtaj said last week
submarines purchased from Russia in early 1990s will also be
deployed.
Iran's procurement of the submarines provoked fears among Gulf
Arab states that they may pose a threat and jeopardize Gulf
stability.
The commander of the Revolutionary Guards' naval forces,
Rear-Admiral Ali-Akbar Ahmadian, said last week the maneuvers sought
to send a "message of peace" to Arab monarchies across the Gulf.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:23:45 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Esfahan seeks to woo back foreign tourists

ESFAHAN, Iran, Dec 2 (AFP) - This ancient city on the edge of
the Iranian desert is sprucing up its majestic blue-tiled mosques,
vast open square and centuries-old bazaar to woo back wary tourists
after 20 years of isolation.
"Our country gets about half a million tourists a year and we
could do with 10 million," said Hossain Payghambary, a carpet trader
whose tiny shop on the huge Maidan-e-Imam square has become a de
facto tourist office for the handful of adventurous travellers who
pass through the city.
Esfahan governor Mohammad Javadi unveiled plans this month to
pump almost half of the municipality's budget or around 185 billion
rials (around 62 million dollars at the official exchange rate) on
scores of tourism projects in the city long known in Farsi as
Nefse-Jahan or "half the world."
The number of foreign tourists to Esfahan has tripled this year
from 1997 levels, Javadi said, without giving specific figures,
while calling on foreign entrepreneurs to invest in hotels and
tourist attractions in the city.
In total some 600,000 tourists and Islamic pilgrims, mainly from
Central Asia, visited the Islamic republic in 1996, bringing in just
300 million dollars in hard currency for the cash-strapped
government, according to the latest official statistics.
"Of course we want tourists back, but we don't want hamburger
joints here, there should be respect for our Islamic traditions,"
said Payghambary, nevertheless mulling ideas for such revolutionary
trinkets as Ayatollah Khomeini watches and T-shirts.
Esfahan dates back around 2,500 years but its "golden age" as
Iran's capital was in the late 16th and 17th centuries when Shah
Abbas oversaw the building of much of the city's Islamic
architecture, including several vast mosques and arched bridges
spanning the river Zayandeh-Rood.
It remains a bustling trade and handicrafts centre, with
carpets, ceramics, enamelwork and printed cloth among the
specialties of the region.
One passageway in the 1,300 year-old bazaar still reverberates
to the sound of craftsmen beating away at vast copper pots, in
another an elderly man handprints woven cotton cloths while in a
nearby teahouse the city's menfolk gather to smoke the "ghalyan" or
water pipe.
Roger Stevens, British ambassador to Iran in the 1950s,
predicted in his 1962 book "The Land of the Great Sophy" on the
former Persia that Esfahan would soon be an obligatory stop on a
"world tour of Monumental Cities."
But less than 20 years later Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's
Islamic revolutionaries had seized power from the Shah, Iran had
turned its back on the outside world, and the number of tourists
dried up to a trickle.
"Before I came people said I was crazy to go to Iran. We have
lots of ideas about this country, that it's dangerous and
repressive, so I was really surprised at the real thing," said Wendy
Butler, a 28-year-old graphic designer from London.
President Mohammad Khatami, a reformist elected in May 1997, has
expressed dismay over the sluggish tourism industry and called for
an improvement of transport and hotel services as well as the easing
of cumbersome customs and visa regulations.
"Unfortunately, our revenue from tourism is very low despite the
fact that Iran is among the top 10 richest countries in terms of
archeological sites," he said at a tourism seminar earlier this
month.
The government decided in 1990 to revive the industry and
attract more tourists, but has had little success -- mainly due to
strict Islamic rules, including a ban on the consumption of alcohol
and dress codes for women.
"Yes, I object to being told to cover up," said Briton Dee
Elrick, who was leading an overland tour across the Middle East to
Nepal.
"But somehow wearing a chador means I can better experience what
life is all about here, particularly as a women, rather than just
looking on as a tourist in shorts and T-shirt. That's what makes
Iran so unusual," she said.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:24:03 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Six Afghan drug smugglers killed in clash with Iranian security forces

TEHRAN, Dec 2 (AFP) - Six Afghan "bandits and drug smugglers"
were killed by Iranian security forces on the border with
Afghanistan, the Keyhan newspaper reported Wednesday.
The clash occurred near Taybad, about a dozen kilometres (eight
miles) inside Iranian territory, the paper added. It did not say
when it happened.
The security forces seized 38 kilograms (85 pounds) of opium and
several light weapons.
Smugglers from Pakistan and Afghanistan use Iran as a transit
territory for drugs destined for markets in the Gulf Arab countries
and Europe.
The Iranians have been fighting the traffic for many years, and
seize nearly 200 tonnes of different drugs annually. Being caught
with more than 30 grammes of heroin or more than five kilograms (11
pounds) of opium carries the death penalty.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:23:54 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran to deport Iraqi, Afghan refugees

TEHRAN, Iran, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The Iranian interior minister says Iran
plans to deport Afghan and Iraqi refugees to ease the economic burden
resulting from their longstanding presence.
Abdolvahed Mousavi asserts there are some 1.5 million foreign
refugees, many of them in Iran illegally, taking employment
opportunities from Iranians.
Speaking during a meeting of the Immigration Office, Lari said Iran
was putting the final touches on a prepared plan for the refugee's
deportation.
In October, Iran encouraged the Afghan refugees to return to their
country by allowing them to take furniture, wheat and a small amount of
money with them but the campaign failed to decrease their numbers. On
the contrary, new groups of refugees arrived from Afghanistan because of
the continued fighting between the Taliban forces and their opponents.
As for the Iraqi refugees, only a few of them returned to their
country despite the fact that Red Cross offices were opened in their
camps in southwestern Iran to secure their repatriation.
Observers say the current campaign by the Iranian government is
unlikely to succeed because the political conditions in Afghanistan and
Iraq remain unchanged and the refugees offer cheaper labor than Iranian
workers protected by labor laws.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:34:33 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran reaffirms claim over disputed Gulf islands

TEHRAN, Dec 2 (AFP) - Iran reaffirmed on Wednesday its
sovereignty over three strategic Gulf islands, also claimed by the
United Arab Emirates, but said it would welcome a negotiated
settlement to the dispute.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi "stressed the
territorial integrity of the Islamic republic that also includes the
three Persian Gulf islands of the Great and Lesser Tunbs and Abu
Mussa," the official IRNA news agency reported.
But Asefi also said that "every question in that respect would
be solvable by negotiation," the agency added.
On Tuesday, the UAE renewed a call for a ruling by the
International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague on the dispute.
"We call again on the Islamic Republic of Iran to a constructive
dialogue or recourse to adjudication by the ICJ," UAE President
Sheikh Zayed ibn Sultan al-Nahyan said.
"Iran's continued occupation of the three islands, Abu Mussa,
the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, does not favour a good atmosphere for
the establishment of relations based on mutual trust between the
region's countries," the official WAM news agency quoted him as
saying.
Abu Mussa, with a population of around 700 Arabs and Iranians,
is claimed by the UAE emirate of Sharjah while the Tunbs were under
the control of another emirate Ras Al-Khaimah until Iranian troops
moved onto the islands in 1971.
The three islands in the Strait of Hormuz control the world's
main oil supply route.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:34:31 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran's Islamic militia stages "urban manoeuvres"

TEHRAN, Nov 26 (AFP) - Some 500,000 volunteer Islamic
paramilitaries staged "urban manoeuvres" in cities across Iran
Thursday to test their ability to respond to internal unrest.
The volunteers, known as Basijis and recognised by their
kaffiyehs, red headbands and camouflage gear, staged road blocks in
Tehran and elsewhere in manoeuvres that a commander said were a test
of their ability to defend "the ideals of the Islamic republic."
The Basijis were created in the 1980s on the orders of Iran's
late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to defend the
Islamic revolution against internal and external enemies.
These volunteers were active in Iran's eight-year war with Iraq
and suffered heavy casualties.
They are employed in civilian projects and assist Iran's police
force in peacetime, although they are not under interior ministry
control and complaints against them from the general public are
rarely followed up.
They were strengthened in 1993 following rioting in several
Iranian cities that put considerable strain on the country's
security forces.
The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, General Rahim
Safavi, who also heads the Basijis, said they have some four million
male and female members at 30,000 bases around the country.
In a move designed to keep a closer watch on students, whose
increasingly outspoken protests in recent months have exasperated
conservative politicians, parliament passed a law this month
strengthening the Basiji presence on university campuses.
Student organisations and radical papers denounced the move as a
threat to fragile freedom in university campuses amid concern that
the volunteers could intimidate students into greater subservience.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:38:33 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Marriage turning into a crisis for young Iranians

TEHRAN, Dec 4 (AFP) - Marriage in Iran, which has one of the
world's youngest populations, is turning into one of the country's
biggest headcahes, with young people facing both traditional taboos
and tough economic choices.
There are about 10 million Iranians of marriageable age, who
have found themselves frustrated in their search for happiness.
Now state television has intervened in the search for a way out
of Iran's "marriage crisis." It has been broadcasting a series of
nightly talk shows with young people describing the problems they
face and expressing their views on cultural taboos.
Almost all the young men and women have called for radical
changes to break free of the old shackles.
While most families are still bound by traditional values, the
younger generation consider arranged marriage as outdated and want
to get to know each other before committing themselves to marriage.
Islamic laws strictly observed since the 1979 revolution have
done nothing to make this easier, as they virtually forbid all
encounters between young men and women in public.
Materialistic concerns are also an obstacle, especially among
the better off families.
Middle-class families often demand that prospective husbands
should have a good job with "prospects" before agreeing to let them
marry their daughters.
A standard practice is to demand a considerable number of gold
coins from the groom as a security in case of divorce.
Then there are the wedding expenses and presents for the bride -
a must for any self-respecting bridegroom - that can exceed 20 or 30
million rials (6,000 to 10,000 dollars at the official exchange
rate.)
The media and clerics often criticize such extravagant customs,
asking that families be less "demanding".
This is basically the message the television programmes seek to
relay to the public.
"If a couple know each other and go out together before getting
married, they could resolve a whole lot of things and do without
senseless expenses," said a young girl student on television.
But that may be easier said than done.
An average worker in Iran needs to work two shifts to be able to
afford just the rent on a small apartment -- if he has a job at
all.
Good jobs are not easy to come by nowadays in Iran, where there
are around two million unemployed. The number is expected to go on
rising as some 10 million young people enter the job market in the
next few years.
Young people's votes were decisive in President Mohammad
Khatami's landslide electoral victory in May 1997, and most still
expect the government to help provide them with a brighter future.
But some have already succumbed to despair and are turning more
and more to drugs. There is a thriving market for hashish and opium,
in a country which lies on the direct smuggling route from Pakistan
and Afghanistan.
But although Khatami may not have fulfilled the economic needs
of the young, he has at least managed to ease draconian regulations
placed around their life.
Middle-class youth mainly in big cities have found a way to
forget their economic woes by imitating their Western counterparts
in dress and social habits.
Slipping away from the watchful eyes of "moral" cops, unmarried
couples meet and hold hands in parks, movie theaters, trendy coffee
shops and pizzarias with an ease unprecedented since the
revolution.
In a western-style cafe, over a glass of locally produced cola
or French coffee and without their parents or the "moral" police
intruding, they may find it easier to discuss their future life.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:38:38 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran's naval maneuvers begin

TEHRAN, Iran, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- An Iranian Navy command official says
the first phase of the country's annual naval maneuvers has started in
the Gulf waters with the firing of six ``peace'' shots.
Issa Golvardi says today that changing the name of the war games from
``Victory'' to Vahdat-77 (Unity-77) was ``a practical confirmation on
Iran's intention to consolidate and expand its defense ties with the
Gulf countries.''
Golvardi denied on Thursday that the war games conducted by the joint
forces of the Navy and the Revolutionary Guards were meant not to defend
disputed Iranian islands in the Strait of Hormuz but rather as
rapprochement with neighboring countries.
Golvardi was referring to the islands of Greater and Lesser Tumbs as
well as Abu Moussa, whose ownership is disputed by the United Arab
Emirates.
According to Golvardi, Iran has for the first time officially
informed all its neighbors of the maneuvers' complete details ``to
express its wish for unifiying regional goals and to affirm Iran's good
intentions towards the neighboring countries in the Gulf.''

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:38:45 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Omanis observing Iranian military maneuvers in Gulf

TEHRAN, Dec 4 (AFP) - An Omani military team is observing
Iranian naval exercises which kicked off Friday in the Oman Sea and
the strategic Strait of Hormuz, in new sign of warmer ties between
Iran and its Gulf Arab neighbours.
Colonel Issa Golverdi said the decision to allow the Omanis to
observe had been taken at high-level military talks between the two
countries, the official Iranian newsagency IRNA reported.
The main phase of the five-day "Vahdat-77" (Unity 77) air and
naval exercises started Friday with a "six-gun salute in a gesture
of friendship" to the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council
(GCC), he said.
The GCC consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia
and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- all Iran's neighbors across
the Gulf.
"For the first time, the programmes and information needed for
the exercises have been communicated to the neighboring countries in
the Persian Gulf. This is an evolution in the exchange of military
information between the region's countries," Golverdi said.
Iran has waged a diplomatic charm offensive to ease suspicions
the Gulf Arab monarchies have held towards the Islamic republic
since the 1979 revolution.
Tensions have considerably eased since the election of President
Mohammad Khatami in May 1997, but the two sides are still divided by
a territorial dispute between Iran and the UAE.
The exercises, covering a 20,000-square-kilometer
(8,000-square-mile) area, involve around 50,000 troops and will
employ Russian-made Sukhoi-24 bombers as well as home-manufactured
bombs weighing around 250 pounds (110 kilogrammes).
Military officials said Monday they were planning to test their
latest weapons in the maneuvers near the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran's navy commander Admiral Abbas Mohtaj said last week that
submarines bought from Russia in early 1990s will also be deployed.
Iran's purchase of the submarines provoked fears among Gulf Arab
states that they may pose a threat to Gulf stability.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:38:56 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran Remains a Drug Problem Country

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rejecting suggestions that Iran has
strengthened its drug control policies, two Republican lawmakers
are urging President Clinton to keep the Persian Gulf nation on an
official list of drug problem countries.
Citing news reports that Iran will be dropped from the list,
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y.,
said there is no basis for suggesting Iranian drug enforcement has
been strengthened.
Grassley is chairman of the Senate Caucus on International
Narcotics Control and Gilman is chairman of the House International
Relations Committee. They outlined their position in a letter to
Clinton this week.
Reports have circulated that Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright has suggested Iran be removed from the list of drug
problem countries. Each February, those countries are evaluated on
whether they are fully cooperating with U.S. counternarcotics
efforts.
Countries judged noncooperative could face economic penalties,
although that issue does not arise in Iran's case because it
already is subject to comprehensive economic sanctions for reasons
unrelated to narcotics. Still, Iran is one of seven countries
``decertified'' by the United States because of noncooperation with
U.S. counternarcotics efforts.
An internal administration debate over Iran is believed to have
delayed the White House release of this year's list of countries
considered to be drug source or drug transit countries. The
deadline for submission of the list to Congress was Nov. 1.
The debate is taking place against a background of
administration hopes of opening a political dialogue with Iran.
Iran has shown no interest in such a dialogue, though some members
of its government have sought other ways of reducing the two
countries' antagonism.
Grassley and Gilman wrote that any effort to remove Iran from
the list is not based on substantive grounds but on the
``speculative hope that such a unilateral gesture will win
diplomatic points in Iran for some anticipated rapprochement.''
``This is a triumph of hope over experience,'' they wrote.
White House spokesman David Leavy dismissed the suggestion that
Clinton's goal of opening a political dialogue with Iran will
influence his decision. He said the decisions regarding Iran and
other countries will be based solely on specific criteria related
to counternarcotics efforts.
Large drug hauls are common in Iran, which lies on a route used
by smugglers to get drugs from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Europe
and the oil-rich Persian Gulf.
Iran has been cracking down on drug smugglers since 1988.
Hundreds of traffickers have been hanged under a law that mandates
the death penalty for anyone caught with more than a small quantity
of narcotics.
-=-=-
AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 1998 by The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

The information contained in the AP News report may not be published,
broadcast or redistributed without the prior written authority of
The Associated Press.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:39:04 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran: Maneuvers not about islands

TEHRAN, Iran, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- An Iranian Navy command official says
naval maneuvers scheduled for Friday are not meant to defend Iranian
islands but rather as an act of rapprochement with neighboring
countries.
Issa Golvardi told United Press International today that the Vahdat-
77 (Unity-77) war games, due to start on Dec. 4th, were part of the
``Victory'' maneuvers held every year in the Gulf waters.
Golvardi said the maneuvers were meant to confirm the ``ability to
use Iran's defence capabilities in defending the whole of the Gulf and
consolidate Iran's positive speech towards neighboring countries.''
He said the Navy Command did not plan to conduct exercises to defend
Iranian islands, ``Because Iran has no occupied islands so that we
conduct such exercises.''
His comments came after he was quoted by the official Iranian News
Agency as saying that among the war games to be conducted by the joint
forces of the Navy and the Revolutionary Guards was an exercise for air
defence of three islands.
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman announced Wednesday night that
his country was ready to engage in unconditional negotiations with the
UAE based on their 1971 memorandum of understanding to eliminate what he
described as ``a misundertsanding over the issue of the three islands
issue.'' He reiterated his country's sovereignty over the islands.
Golvardi said all warships taking part in the maneuvers will fire six
shots at the beginning of the operation as ``a brotherhood and
friendship salute to the six (Arab) Gulf states.''
He said his country has ``for the first time officially informed all
its neighbors of the maneuvers' complete details to express its wish for
unifiying regional goals and to affirm Iran's good intentions towards
the neighboring countries in the Gulf.''

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:39:10 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran warns Taliban to stop drug trafficking

TEHRAN, Dec 3 (AFP) - Iran's Intelligence Minister Ghorban-Ali
Dorrie-Najafabadi warned the Taliban militia in Afghanistan on
Thursday to stop trafficking in drugs.
"The production and distribution of narcotics under control of
the Taliban militia threatens not only Iran but also all the region
and European countries," the minister told the official Iranian news
agency IRNA.
"We will never let our children fall prey to this destructive
act of the Taliban ... Iran will never back down from its stance
towards the Taliban at the expense of its national interests," he
warned.
The minister urged the militia to "change their stand on the
production and distribution of narcotic drugs."
Iranian officials accuse the Taliban of engaging in drug
trafficking to Europe via Iran, and have dispatched tens of
thousands of troops to the border with Afghanistan to stop the flow
of narcotics into the country.
The soldiers were sent in August when tensions mounted between
Tehran and the Taliban after the murder of nine Iranian diplomats
and a journalist by the militia in northern Afghanistan.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:39:18 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Human rights suffer in polarized Iran: report

NEW YORK, Dec 3 (AFP) - Human rights in Iran have suffered from
the power struggle between religious conservatives and the more
moderate partisans of President Mohammed Khatami, a rights
monitoring group reported Thursday.
"Human rights failed to improve and in some areas deteriorated
as the power struggle intensified," according to the report from
Human Rights Watch.
"While the political rivalry between these increasingly
polarized factions helped highlight important human rights issues,
it nevertheless appeared to drive and even promote violations of
human rights," the group said in its annual report.
The group criticized the United States for excluding the issue
of human rights from its diplomatic relations with Iran, which have
tended toward normalization since Khatami was elected last year.
The deterioration in human rights standards occurred "as
hardliners in the judiciary and the parliament sought to undermine
President Khatami's efforts to normalize Iran's relations with the
West and the United States," according to the report.
Iran has adopted new laws that discriminate against women, Human
Rights Watch said.
Also highlighted in the report was a rise in persecution against
the Baha'i religious community, of which one member, Ruholah
Rowhani, was executed on July 21 -- the first such execution since
1992.
The rights monitoring group also cited an increase in
discrimination and persecution directed against other religious
minorities, including Sunni Muslims, Jews, and Christian
Evangelists.
"Torture was widespread during interrogation," and "executions
after unfair trial proliferated," the group reported.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:40:02 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: "Corrupt" businessman hanged in Iran

TEHRAN, Nov 30 (AFP) - A businessman convicted of swindling
customers was hanged in Tehran on Monday, newspapers reported.
Hussein Dowlatkhahan had been accused of "plundering people's
money" by encouraging them to make investments in phantom business
deals in the 1980s, the Kayhan newspaper said.
Dowlatkhahan's often non-existent firms promised high interest
rates to investors, mainly in real estate.
A revolutionary court in Tehran ordered him hanged after
describing him as "a corrupt of the earth," a crime in Iran that
automatically carries the death penalty.
The court also ordered Dolatkhahan's properties confiscated.
Another man was also hanged in Tehran after being convicted of
throwing acid on two young girls, causing their permanent
disfigurement.
He had been paid to commit the crime by a rejected suitor of one
of the girls.
The man had first been sentenced to 10 years in jail but the
supreme court changed the sentence to hanging after objections from
the girls' families.
The acid-throwing provoked uproar in Iran after newspapers
published horrible accounts of the story and pictures of the victims
after the attack.
The sentences come a day after the Judiciary Chief Ayatollah
Mohammad Yazdi insisted on tough penal sentences and vowed not to
show mercy to criminals.
Iran has been governed by sharia or Islamic law since the 1979
revolution that toppled the secular regime of the shah.
The law sets out the death penalty for a number of crimes,
including major drug trafficking, adultery and spying.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:40:28 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian police prevent march to protest murder of opposition leader

TEHRAN, Nov 30 (AFP) - Iranian police on Monday prevented around
1,000 people seeking to march in Tehran Monday following a memorial
service for slain nationalist opposition leader Dariush Foruhar and
his wife.
Witnesses said the mourners started to march in the streets
after the service demanding an end to "repression and insecurity,"
but police immediately ordered the crowd to disperse.
"Security, security," chanted the crowd, which also demanded the
arrest of the murderers.
Foruhar and his wife Parvaneh were stabbed to death at their
home on November 22.
Hundreds of liberal dissidents, academics and critics of the
regime close to various opposition movements were among the several
thousand people who attended the service.
Mahmud Doai, a moderate cleric close to President Mohammad
Khatami, also attended the ceremony to pay respect on behalf of the
president.
Foruhar's son and daughter, Arash and Parastu, thanked the
audience for "coming to express their loyalty to their parents and
Iran."
Iranian officials and media have roundly condemned the killings
and police say they have set up a special committee to "seriously"
investigating the case.
Khatami has personally pledged to pursue the matter until those
responsible for the "repugnant crime" are apprehended.
Foruhar, who headed the secular Iranian Nation's Party, was a
labour minister in the transitional government of Mehdi Bazargan,
set up after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
But he resigned shortly after amid deep disagreements with the
Shiite clery and turned into one of the fiercest critics of the
Islamic regime.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 4 Dec 1998 22:40:15 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Two Iranians executed

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Two Iranians have been executed
after one was convicted of corruption and embezzlement, while the other
defendant was convicted of throwing acid a woman who refused to marry
him.
A statement issued by the judicial authority said one of the men
executed was convicted of fraud, embezzlement and stealing citizens
money via a company he had established on the wake of the 1980-88 war
between Iraq and Iran.
The second man was convicted of showering two girls with acid,
burning and disfiguring their faces after one of them turned down his
offer for marriage.
He was initially sentenced to 10 years in prison but he was later
given a death sentence after the victims appealed.
The executions were approved by the Iranian Supreme Constitutional
Court.

------------------------------

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 3 Dec 1998 to 4 Dec 1998
*************************************************