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REGIONS:

ROGUE POLICE RESPONSIBLE FOR RECENT MURDERS OF WRITERS

On 6 January, the Iranian secret police acknowledged that a
rogue element within its own ranks had been responsible for murdering the three writers found
dead in November and December last year, reports the "London Guardian" on 7 January 1999, according to the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN.

Majid Sharif was found dead in a morgue in Tehran on 24 November 1998; Mohammad
Moukhtari was found dead on 3 December, bearing marks of having been strangled; and
Mohammad Ja'far Pouyandeh was found dead on 11 December. Two other dissidents - a married
couple - were found murdered in their home in the same period. After both an international and
domestic outcry, President Khatami announced that he had set up a committee to investigate this
chilling spate of killings.

On 6 January the Ministry of Intelligence released a statement saying that the "hateful
murders" had been carried out by some of its own agents acting independently and that these
individuals had now been arrested. Such an admission of culpability by Iran's police is
unprecedented.

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