Iran admits killing writers

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The Independent Online
IRAN'S INTELLIGENCE Ministry has admitted that some of its renegade colleagues carried out the high-profile kidnapping and killings of several writers in early December. The rogue agents also ordered the stabbing to death of the country's secular opposition leader, Dariush Foruhar, and his wife, Parvaneh, on 22 November.

Iran's President, Mohammad Khatami, yesterday issued a message congratulating the ministry for its "honest" investigation of the murders.

The revelation is likely to help President Khatami's beleaguered reform programme which has encountered strong opposition from religious conservatives. He had demanded that the public be informed of developments in the case, no matter who was implicated, saying: "Our main asset is in the trust of our people."

Since his election in May 1997, President Khatami has made it his priority to establish the rule of law and control hardliners. However, there has been worsening political violence from die-hard Islamists, who fear for the fundamental principles of the 1979 Islamic revolution. Nothing has yet been said about the motives behind the murders of the dissidents, but it appears that the crimes were prompted by concern for the future of the revolution.

The affair has provoked calls for the resignation of the head of intelligence, Ghorban-Ali Dorrie-Najafabadi, who Mr Khatami is believed to have appointed to clean up the image of the ministry after the former head of the secret services was implicated in the 1992 assassination of Kurdish dissidents in Berlin.

Iran's Interior Ministry said that an assassination attempt on Tuesday on Ali Razini, the head of the Tehran judiciary, was carried out by two people on a motorbike. Mr Razini was reported to be wounded by explosives fastened to his car.

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