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Iran: Court Finds Conspiracy Behind Killings

Tehran, 4 August (RFE/RL) - An Iranian military court says that last year's murders of several dissidents and intellectuals was the work of an isolated conspiracy of rogue intelligence agents, who had also planned to kill top conservative politicians. The court said in a statement made public today in Tehran that the agents, believed to be religious fanatics who disagree with Iran's regime, had conspired to implicate the Revolutionary Guards in the murders, an elite Islamic paramilitary group. The court said the purpose was to "damage Iran's image abroad and isolate the country" as well as to weaken the authority of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Opposition activist Dariush Foruhar and his wife were murdered last November and three prominent writers known for making calls for freedom of speech were killed in the following weeks. Islamic conservatives have consistently charged the killings were organized abroad. Reformers have alleged Islamic hardliners were responsible.

Iranian authorities formally blamed three rogue intelligence agents, one of whom is said to have committed suicide in a Tehran prison.

Iran's parliamentary speaker, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, said on Sunday that there was a link between the murders and the recent student unrest. Today, a group of parliamentarians called for a detailed inquiry into the background of the student unrest.

Meanwhile, the Basij Islamic volunteer paramilitary forces, which played a key role in suppressing student unrest, today started maneuvers in the capital. The Basij militia are trained by the Revolutionary Guards. The maneuvers are to prepare against possible threats from "local and foreign enemies" to the Islamic system.