DNI-NEWS Digest - 3 May 1998 to 5 May 1998

There are 9 messages totalling 567 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Iran releases Palestinian POWs from Iran-Iraq war 2. Iran claims right to attack Iraq-based rebels 3. Full story U.S. senator wants permission to talk to Iran 4. PRESS DIGEST - Iran - May 4 5. irna: blood money-manslaughter increased! 6. BBC: Thousands clash with police in Tehran 7. Sport: Iran regrouping to prepare for U.S. 8. German Death Sentence Appeal 9. Youth's Death Spurs Street Clash with Police

Iran releases Palestinian POWs from Iran-Iraq war

Iran releases Palestinian POWs from Iran-Iraq war 05:41 a.m. May 04, 1998 Eastern

TEHRAN, May 4 (Reuters) - Iran has freed four Palestinian prisoners of war captured during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, the official Iranian news agency IRNA said on Monday.

The release followed a request by the visiting founder of the Palestinian Moslem militant Hamas group Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, IRNA said.

``The four Palestinians met Sheikh Yassin on Monday. The Hamas leader thanked the leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mohammad Khatami and senior officials of Iran for securing the release of the Palestinian POWs,'' IRNA said.

The freed Palestinians would return to their families soon, IRNA added. It did not give further details.

Some Palestinians were among other Arab nationals studying or working in Iraq who volunteered to fight alongside the Iraqi army in the war against non-Arab Iran.

The fate of thousands of combatants listed as missing in action is among issues which Iran and Iraq have been discussing during recent efforts to improve relations.

Iran last month released nearly 5,600 Iraqi prisoners of war in exchange for more than 300 Iranians held by Iraq in their biggest POW swap since 1990.

Western military experts have estimated that up to one million Iranians and Iraqis were killed or wounded in the war.

Iran claims right to attack Iraq-based rebels

Iran claims right to attack Iraq-based rebels 08:34 a.m. May 03, 1998 Eastern

TEHRAN, May 3 (Reuters) - Iran rejected U.S. charges that it was the world's biggest sponsor of terrorism and declared on Sunday it had the right to attack Iraq-based rebels to stop cross-border raids.

The official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Mahmoud Mohammadi as saying Iran was baffled by the charges, coming soon after Washington gave cautious approval to political changes in Iran.

``Iran cannot close its eyes to the rightful defence against those terrorists who transgress the territorial integrity of the Islamic sovereign state and whose hands are stained with the blood of the innocent people,'' IRNA quoted Mohammadi as saying.

A U.S. State Department report issued on Thursday described Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, saying it carried out 13 assassinations in 1997, most of them in northern Iraq, against opposition activists of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran and the Mujahideen Khalq organisation.

The Mujahideen Khalq, an Iranian exile group based in Iraq, condemned the Iranian statement and urged the United Nations Security Council to adopt punitive measures against the Iranian government.

``The (Tehran) regime is preparing the ground for further terrorist acts, military raids and air and missile attacks against the Iranian resistance's bases and combatants,'' the organisation said in a statement to reporters in Baghdad.

Mujahideen Khalq is also designated as a ``terrorist'' organisation by the State Department.

Iran has acknowledged carrying out several attacks against Mujahideen Khalq targets in Iraq and at least one attack against Kurdish dissidents in northern Iraq.

But it said the attacks were part of its efforts to prevent these groups from attacking innocent people in Iran.

``The Islamic Republic of Iran itself is a victim of terrorism,'' Mohammadi said.

``The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue to defend with all its power against those terrorists who try to terrorise the Iranians living on the borders.''

Mohammadi said the State Department report also contradicted U.S. statements which had noted that Iran had undergone change since moderate President Mohammad Khatami was elected last year.

``On the one hand it talks of Iran undergoing transformations during the past year and on the other hand it condemns Iran as a terrorist-supporting nation,'' he said.

IRNA said Mohammadi also noted that the U.S. accusations contrast with Washington's defence of ``Israeli state terrorism.'' ^REUTERS@

Full story U.S. senator wants permission to talk to Iran

Full story U.S. senator wants permission to talk to Iran 03:06 p.m May 03, 1998 Eastern

KUWAIT (Reuters) - A senior U.S. senator called Sunday for Washington's permission to start a dialogue with Iran.

``I think it is high time now in view of the attitude being expressed here in the Gulf, that we do that and I am going to renew our request for permission for our committee to meet with the parliament of Iran,'' said Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Ted Stevens.

Stevens, a Republican from Alaska, was speaking to reporters before leaving for Saudi Arabia.

He was apparently referring to a warming in ties between the Islamic republic and Gulf Arab neighbors since Mohammad Khatami became president of Iran in August. Iran's parliament speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri last week visited Kuwait.

Stevens, who is leading a delegation of seven senators, discussed dealing with Iran with Kuwait Prime Minister and Crown Prince Sheikh Saad al-Abdulla al-Sabah.

``We are very pleased with the scope of our discussions with the Crown Prince and I am most pleased with the attitude he expressed concerning the advisability of members of our country trying to open up a new dialogue with Iran,'' the official Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) quoted him as saying.

Stevens said that last year he tried to establish contacts with Iran but was not granted permission to leave the United States but ``he pointed out that they would use U.S. agricultural products as a new avenue for peace in the Gulf, and I hope we could find some way to reopen relations with Iran.

``We think we ought to have some mechanism for reopening relations with Iran,'' he was quoted by KUNA as saying.

Iran's conservative parliamentary speaker Nateq-Nouri said in Kuwait on Wednesday that the United States was continuing to build a ``huge wall'' to block the possibility of improving ties, accusing Washington of plotting against Tehran before and after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The U.S. senate team's talks in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are also aimed at finding new ways to finance the large U.S. military presence in the Gulf.

``We want to find the answer to the problem of costs for our deployment, not only here, but worldwide...(which puts) a tremendous strain on the system to keep the rotations and keep the deployments,'' Stevens said.

The U.S. has some 35,000 troops in the region deployed on warships and in several Gulf Arab countries.

Earlier this year, some of Washington's regional allies showed reluctance to pay for additional troops and hardware rushed to the Gulf in a dispute between Iraq and the United Nations over arms inspections.

Kuwait, which was freed of an Iraqi occupation by the U.S.- led 1991 Gulf War, pays most in-country costs for U.S. and other foreign troops deployed in the tiny Gulf Arab state.

``This is the main reason why we are here, to make some suggestions for change which will help us maintain the commitments we have made,'' said Stevens, adding that ``Kuwait is a model partner in terms of their contributions and their support for our forces.

KUNA said Stevens denied asking for direct financial support, stressing that ``We have no intention whatsoever to leave this area, we intend to keep our commitments and do everything we can to keep (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein right where he is, in Iraq.''

In another development, Saudi Arabia has offered to help bring about rapprochement between the United States and Iran, Saudi-owned newspapers said on Sunday.

The London-based daily Al-Hayat quoted diplomats in Riyadh as saying that Saudi officials offered U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who visited the kingdom on Friday and Saturday, to carry the views of the United States to Tehran.

``Diplomatic sources said Saudi Arabia renewed its mediation offer to America to help narrow differences between Washington and Tehran, by conveying the United States' views on the subject during an upcoming visit by the Saudi foreign minister to Iran,'' Al-Hayat said in a front-page story.

The newspaper said the foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, was due to visit Iran in the ``next few days.''

Asharq al-Awsat, another London-based Saudi-owned newspaper carried a similar front page story. Neither dailies gave any further details.

Ties between Saudi Arabia and non-Arab Iran, the Gulf's heavyweights, have been improving since moderate Iranian cleric Mohammad Khatami was elected president last year.

Saudi Arabia is Washington's main Arab ally in the Gulf.

Khatami has called for dialogue and cultural exchanges between the Iranian and American people.

The newspapers said Gore's talks with Saudi officials focused on Middle East peace efforts and on the situation in the Gulf.

PRESS DIGEST - Iran - May 4

PRESS DIGEST - Iran - May 4 09:34 a.m. May 04, 1998 Eastern

TEHRAN, May 4 (Reuters) - These are some of the leading stories in Iranian newspapers on Monday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.


- Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Iran was willing to reduce its oil output beyond the 140,000 barrels per day (bpd) agreed at the Riyadh meeting of March 22.

JOMHURI ESLAMI 380,000 bpd of oil from Neka on the Caspian coast to Tehran, an informed source said. Iran plans to offer the project, which will require a $400 million investment, to foreign bidders in late May.


- Chadromlu iron ore extraction complex in central Iran, in which $700 million has been invested, will be opened within three months, the mines and metals minister said.

QODS United States for trying to impose ``a propaganda siege'' on Iran by setting up new Persian-language broadcasts beamed to the Islamic republic.


- Alaeddin Boroujerdi, Iran's special envoy on Afghan affairs, expressed regret over a deadlock in Afghan peace talks in Islamabad, saying Iran was ready to cooperate with the United Nations to break the deadlock.


- The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance will employ all its legal machinery for freedom and a lawful operation of the press, a deputy culture minister said.


- ``In a healthy and dynamic society, above and beyond dealing with criminals, we should adopt a strategy to identify the reasons for crimes and try to remove their roots,'' President Mohammad Khatami tells the officials of Iran's prisons organisation.

((Gulf newsroom, +971 4 607 1222, fax +971 4 626982, dubai.newsroom+reuters.com))

irna: blood money-manslaughter increased!

blood money-manslaughter
judiciary increases blood money in case of manslaughter tehran, may 4, irna -- 'di'yeh' or blood money, paid by those convicted of manslaugter to the victims' families, has been increased, announced the justice ministry in its memo to judicial courts throughout the country, according to a report in the monday issue of farsi daily 'iran'.
per centuries-old tradition, di'yeh, which is also paid in case of inflicting permanent physical damage, is calculated in terms of the value of 100 heads of camels, or 200 heads of cows or 1,000 heads of sheep.
the justice ministry raised di'yeh sum according to the said formulas to rls 56 million, rls 105 million and rls 148 million from the previous rls 48 million, rls 90 million and rls 120 million, respectively.
convicts have the right to choose the lowest amount to compensate for their crime, the daily quoted a judiciary official as saying.
stating that many convicts are currently in jail because of the inability to pay the di'yeh, the official called on the victims' families to either forego part of the penalty or to allow the prisoners to pay the amount in installments.
the humanitarian call came in light of the fact that many prisoners are sole bread earners of their families. setting them free, while a great service to their families, enables them to work and come up with the di'yeh money, the official explained.

BBC: Thousands clash with police in Tehran

Tuesday, May 5, 1998 Published at 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/s/w_asia/newsid_88000/88190.stm World: S/W Asia

Thousands clash with police in Tehran

Tehran residents are increasingly dissatisfied over rising prices and workers' protests

Thousands of people in the Iranian capital, Tehran, have clashed with the police in what correspondents say is an unusual show of public anger.

Local newspapers say about 5,000 demonstrators threw stones and bottles at policemen, and blocked a main road with burning tyres.

The violence in the south-western suburb of Pol-Saveh followed the death of a teenage peddler who was killed in a car chase with the city authorities.

The 16-year-old vegetable vendor was killed on Monday in an accident while fleeing from municipal authorities in the back of a pick-up truck. The authorities had attempted to arrest the boy for not having a licence.

Demands for mayor to act

Newspapers say tension rose after the youth's bloodied body remained on the street for several hours as the police, the coroner's office and the city's emergency services squabbled over who should remove the body.

The crowd demanded that Tehran's mayor should visit the accident scene.

Large numbers of people have taken to peddling food and other goods in Teheran, where unemployment has risen dramatically in recent years.

Iranian papers have recently reported increasing dissatisfaction among Tehran residents over rising prices and strikes and protests by workers across the country, partly due to non-payment of wages.

Sport: Iran regrouping to prepare for U.S.

WORLD CUP: Iran regrouping to prepare for U.S.

Copyright 1998 Nando.net Copyright 1998 Associated Press

BORUJERD, Iran (May 5, 1998 - 2:56 EDT) -- Iran's soccer team already is thinking about what will be a much-hyped match with the United States at the World Cup next month.

"We don't have good political relations with the Americans, but this is football. Our people are very sensitive about this game and, God willing, we will win," star midfielder Mehrdad Minavand said when asked about the match against the United States.

Iran's team is gaining strength as it approaches the tournament, and could be a difficult opponent for the Americans, coach Tomislav Ivic said.

"The boys are working very hard, they are very serious and highly motivated. I'm quite satisfied and happy with them," said Ivic, a Croat. "Their pace is very good and there is coherence. They understand each other well."

After poor performances at home last month in a 2-0 loss to Hungary -- a non-qualifier for the World Cup -- and a 1-0 win over Jamaica, the team appeared more motivated and organized as it practiced at a camp in this quiet city 248 miles southwest of the capital of Tehran.

Enjoying the fine weather and the support of several thousand Iranians who attend their training sessions on a daily basis, the players look as confident and optimistic as they were when they clinched the last spot in the finals. The Iranians scored two goals in less than 15 minutes against Australia in November to erase a 2-0 deficit.

Ivic, who was giving instructions to the players in Farsi, has come under heavy criticism following Iran's unconvincing performances over the past few months.

"Our morale is very high, we are developing very well as a team," said Minavand.

Ivic did not seem concerned about ace striker Ali Daei, who underwent surgery on Saturday after breaking his cheekbone while playing with Armenia Bielefeld in the German Bundesliga.

"We are not too worried. Ali will always be Ali. I'm sure he will recover in time to play in the finals," said Ivic.

The team returned to Tehran Tuesday after the week-long camp at Borujerd. Early next week, it will set up camp in Italy and Croatia for several exhibition games before heading to France.

In addition to Daei, two other key players, Khodadad Azizi and Karim Bagheri, will join the team in Italy.

Azizi, who plays for Germany's Cologne, was Asia's 1997 player of the year, while Bagheri -- Daei's teammate at Armenia Bielefeld -- led World Cup qualifying with 19 goals in 17 games, including a record-tying seven in Iran's record-setting 17-0 victory over the Maldives in June.

"All the players here are healthy and they are 80 percent fit. We'll get the remaining 20 percent when we're in Rome and Milan. There is no need to pressure them now," said team doctor Hussein Barati.

Iran's group also includes former world champion Germany and Yugoslavia, Europe's most improved team in 1997.

By AFSHIN VALINEJAD, Associated Press Writer

German Death Sentence Appeal

Iran to Hear German Death Sentence Appeal Soon-TV

Reuters 05-MAY-98

TEHRAN, May 5 (Reuters) - The Iranian Supreme Court will soon review a death sentence against a German businessman for having sexual relations out of wedlock with an Iranian woman, Iran's top judge said on Tuesday.

``The case (of Helmut Hofer) will be heard by the Supreme Court...and the appeals judge will consider new statements by the accused in issuing a legal ruling,'' Iranian television quoted judiciary head Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi as saying.

Hofer, sentenced to death in January for extramarital sex with the Moslem woman, has since appealed and said he had converted to Islam, the television said.

The television said the case would be heard ``soon,'' without giving a date.

Under Iran's Islamic laws a non-Moslem man convicted of sex out of wedlock with a Moslem woman can face a death sentence.

Unmarried Moslem men and women convicted of extramarital sex face up to 100 lashes.

Hofer's attorney has been quoted as saying the 56-year-old Hamburg businessman, who is not married, and the 27-year-old unmarried medical student had kissed once. The woman was sentenced to 99 lashes.

Germany, which favours a cautious resumption of ties with Iran, has suggested that relations could worsen considerably if Tehran executed Hofer.

Yazdi denied that the government of moderate President Mohammad Khatami had intervened over Hofer's case with the conservative-run judiciary.

``Ayatollah Yazdi reiterated the independence of the judiciary and denied that the government had interfered in the case,'' the television said.

The government and the judiciary were involved in an open row last month over the arrest on graft charges of Tehran's powerful mayor, a close Khatami ally.

Tehran-Bonn ties were soured last year after a Berlin court concluded that Iranian leaders had ordered the 1992 killings of Kurdish dissidents in Germany. Iran denied the charges.

The European Union suspended its policy of ``critical dialogue'' towards Iran and EU members and Iran withdrew their top envoys. Last autumn the envoys returned and relations have slightly improved.

The European Union in January lifted a ban on high-level diplomatic contacts with Iran after efforts by Iran to improve relations since Khatami's election last May.

Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.All rights reserved.

Youth's Death Spurs Street Clash with Police

Iran Youth's Death Spurs Street Clash with Police

Reuters 05-MAY-98

TEHRAN, May 5 (Reuters) - The death of a young Iranian street vendor as he tried to escape authorities sparked clashes between an angry crowd and Tehran police, a newspaper said on Tuesday.

The daily Salam said a crowd of 5,000 gathered after 16-year-old vegetable vendor Eliyas Nowrouzi was killed on Monday in an accident while fleeing from municipal authorities in the back of a pick-up truck. The authorities had attempted to arrest the boy for not having a licence.

Tension rose after the youth's bloodied body remained on the street for several hours as the police, the coroner's office and the city's emergency services squabbled over who should remove the body, the newspaper said.

The crowd built barricades of burning tyres and threw stones at police forces, demanding that Tehran's mayor should visit the accident scene in a teeming southwestern district, it added.

A police officer managed to briefly calm down the crowd, before clashes broke out again and a special forces unit moved in to remove the body. Police dispersed the chanting crowd which formed a procession behind the body, Salam added.

The newspaper did not say whether any people were arrested or injured in the unrest which lasted more than four hours.

Iranian papers have recently reported increasing dissatisfaction among Tehran residents over rising prices and strikes and protests by workers across the country, partly due to non-payment of wages.

Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.All rights reserved.

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 3 May 1998 to 5 May 1998