Iran assassins cited in Parisian murder

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FRANCE'S top anti-terrorist investigator has finished his inquiry into the 1991 murder of Shahpur Bakhtiar, the Shah of Iran's last prime minister, and concluded that the assassination was organised from Tehran.

Jean-Louis Bruguiere, an examining magistrate who heads the anti-terrorist 14th section of the prosecutor's office, handed over 18 volumes of evidence on the killing, in the Paris suburb of Suresnes on 6 August 1991, to the Paris appeals court on Monday. The court has to decide if the case should go to trial.

Bakhtiar was appointed prime minister by the Shah as the monarch left the country before the February 1979 Islamic revolution that brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power. Bakhtiar then went into hiding and escaped to France later in the year.

Mr Bruguiere's report, ending with a request for the three suspects held in France to be tried by an assize court, relied on records of telephone calls to prove the Tehran link. His investigations took him to Turkey, where he said the co-ordinator of the assassination was based during the operation. Telephone traffic between Turkey, Switzerland - where the alleged assassins were based before crossing into France - and Iran turned up a Tehran number that the French DST counter-espionage service has established was used by Iranian intelligence services. The three assassins were apparently known to Bakhtiar and were allowed into his house.

Last year, France unexpectedly allowed two Iranians wanted for assassination in Switzerland to go home, to the anger of Swiss authorities. French officials, hinting that a deal was done with Iran to stop it helping Algerian fundamentalists, have never fully explained that decision.