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  Trial ends for 1998 dissident murders, verdict due in two weeks

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posted January 15, 2001 10:02     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
TEHRAN, Jan 13 (AFP) - A Tehran military court on Saturday wound up the trial of 18 intelligence agents charged with the 1998 murders of several dissidents, state radio reported.

Defence lawyers now have until Thursday to present a final defence of their clients, all but two of whom have admitted some role in the murders.

The court will then issue a verdict within a week and inform the defendants by January 27, it said.

Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi said last week that all 18 defendants were intelligence agents, the first time an Iranian official publicly confirmed the link between the men and the secret service.

Nationalist leader Dariush Foruhar and his wife, Parvaneh, were found stabbed to death in their Tehran apartment in November 1998, followed within weeks by writers Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh and Mohammad-Ali Mokhtari.

A third writer killed around the same time, Majid Sharif, has not figured in the trial according to the official information that has emerged from the court about the hearings.

The families of the victims boycotted the trial in protest at the secrecy surrounding the controversial case.

Journalist Akbar Ganji, who is in jail in connection with another case, used a recent court hearing to accuse ex-intelligence chief Ali Fallahian, who was out of office at the time of the murders, of being involved.

He also created a furore after publishing a book linking former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to the murders. Fallahian has denied the allegations.

The intelligence agent named as the mastermind behind the murders, Said Emami, was reported to have committed suicide in prison.

Ganji on Saturday was given a 10-year jail sentence and a further five years of exile from Tehran on various charges, including his presence at an "un-Islamic" political conference in Germany last year.

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