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Trial for shock 1998 political murders continues
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posted January 03, 2001 09:50
TEHRAN, Jan 1 (AFP) - A Tehran military court held its fifth session Monday of the closed-door trial of those accused of the 1998 assassinations of several dissidents, the state IRNA news agency said. The tribunal, trying 18 people for the murders that authorities blamed on "rogue" intelligence agents, again had number-two defendant Mehrdad Alikhani on the stand, it said.
The trial is to resume on Tuesday and IRNA gave no further details.
But press reports quoted an official statement saying Alikhani had told the court Sunday that the decision to carry out the murders was taken "collectively."
The case has been dogged by controversy, including allegations that top figures in the clerical regime were behind the murders.
Relatives of the victims have been boycotting the trial, complaining of the intense secrecy surrounding both the hearings and the two-year investigation into the murders.
The court said Saturday that Mostafa Kazemi, the principal defendant, had admitted to ordering the hits on secular nationalist leader Dariush Foruhar, his wife and three outspoken writers.
Authorities have said the in camera trial was justified because of national security concerns.
The killings shocked Iranian society, sparking protests both here and abroad and dealing a setback to President Mohammad Khatami's efforts to present a new image of Iran on the international stage.
Authorities in January 1999 announced that a network of "rogue" secret agents had carried out the murders but had done so without the knowledge of their superiors in the intelligence ministry.
The controversy grew last June when prison authorities said Said Emami, the man fingered as the mastermind behind the murders, reportedly committed suicide in prison by drinking a bottle of hair remover.
All times are PT (US)
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