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Iran: Ayatollah Orders Arrest Of Killers Of Dissidents

Tehran, 14 December 1998 (RFE/RL) - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei today ordered the country's security forces to find and arrest whoever is responsible for a series of recent murders of Iranian opposition writers and political dissidents. Iranian state television quoted Khamenei as saying that the murder of any of Iran's citizens is "a crime against the country's national security."

He ordered the ministers of intelligence and interior, as well as the judiciary, to pursue the investigation into the recent murders of the liberal writers and dissidents.

In a statement from his office today, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said the killings were "targetted not only at our citizens but at the prestige and authority of the Islamic regime."

Over the last month, three Iranian intellectuals have been found dead in suspicious circumstances.

The body of the third victim, writer and translator Mohammad Pouyandeh, was found yesterday. Another author, Pirouz Davani, is still missing and is feared dead.

Around 140 members of Iran's parliament called on Khatami yesterday to ensure the arrest of the killers, who have not been identified.

Iran's National Security Council, presided over by Khatami, held an emergency meeting late yesterday to discuss the killings.