Date: Dec 13, 1998 [ 22: 49: 24]

Subject: Iran blames killings on foreigners

From: Farhad Abdolian

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From: (Farhad Abdolian)
Subject: Iran blames killings on foreigners
Date: Sun, 13 Dec 1998 22:49:24 GMT
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TEHRAN, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- A spokesman for Iran's judiciary has blamed
unnamed ``foreigners'' for a recent spate of kidnappings and killings of
prominent Iranian writers that has moved the Iranian President Mohammed
Khatami to order a police investigation.
``There is an organized movement which relies on elements on the
inside to harm the country's security,'' the spokesman, Ali Abbas Fard
(``UH-lee uh-BAHS FAHRD''), told journalists today.
He said every effort would be made by what he called a special
apparatus of the judiciary to restore security.
Four critics of President Khatami's government have been found dead
over the past four weeks, including two prominent writers, Piruz Davani
and Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh. They went missing on Wednesday.
Davani is still missing, but Pouyandeh's body was found late Saturday
near Sharyar city, 19 miles (30 km) southwest of the Iranian capital. It
appeared that he had been strangled.
Human rights organizations say the main suspects are Khatami's hard-
line political opponents, who have been increasingly resorting to
violence to attack reformers and dissidents.
The body of dissident poet Mohammad Mokhtari was found Wednesday,
dumped on the outskirts of Tehran a week after he vanished. Marks on his
head and neck indicate he may have been strangled, the New York-based
organization Human Rights Watch reported.
Another writer, Majid Sharif, who returned to Iran a few years ago,
has also died. Iranian officials said the cause was a heart attack, but
dissidents say his death was suspicious.
And last month, opposition leader Dariush Foruhar, and his wife,
Parvaneh, were found stabbed to death in their Tehran home.
Nobody has been charged in any of the incidents, leading to
suspicions the campaign is being backed by powers in the ruling
hierarchy. Police say they have made several arrests in connection with
the killings, but their findings have not been made public.
Earlier today, Khatami ordered police and intelligence officials to
step up their inquiries into the deaths at a meeting of Iran's National
Security Council.