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PARIS 25TH APR. (IPS) Former Intelligence Minister hojatoleslam Ali Fallahian has been placed under house arrest in connection with the last year's chain murders of prominent secular politician and intellectual dissidents, according to well informed sources.

An adviser to the leader, the ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i on intelligence, terrorist and security matters, Mr. Fallahian is under an international warrant issued in 1996 by Germany because of his role in the assassination of Iranian dissidents abroad.

However, he has been in Mecca performing the annual Islamic pilgrimage with the Saudi authorities doing nothing to arrest him, as they should have done in accordance with international laws.

"Mr. Fallahian was arrested immediately after his return from Mecca and upon approval from the leader. Interrogated for several days on denunciations and confessions made to the Presidential Investigation Committee by Mr. Sa'id Eslami, his right hand man in the Intelligence Ministry, he is now under house arrest" the source told IPS on condition of anonymity.

He said that investigators have traced Fallahian's terrorist activities to eleven years ago, finding his fingers in the murder of almost all leading dissidents ever since.

In April 1997, a Berlin High Court ruled that the highest ruling clerical authorities of the Islamic Republic, including the leader of the regime, the then president ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, his Foreign and Intelligence Ministers, Ali Akbar Velayati and Ali Fallahian and the former Commander of the Revolutionary guards, general Mohsen Reza'i all had direct responsibility in the assassination of Iranian dissidents, in this case the secretary-general of the Democratic party of Iranian Kurdistan Mr. Sadeq Sharafkandi and 3 of his colleagues assassinated in Berlin in September 1992 by a mixed Iranian-Lebanese Islamic terrorist squad.

In November 1998, several prominent political and intellectual personalities, among them Mr. Dariush Foruhar, the secretary-general of the secular and nationalist Iranian People's Party and his wife Parvaneh Eskandari were stabbed to death with 24 wounds while writers and poets Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Ja'far Pouyandeh were assassinated in mysterious circumstances. Mr. Piruz Davani, a political activist and close friend of the Foruhar is still missing.

As Mr. Khameneh'i and his hard line acolytes were seeing the hands of foreign elements, agents and countries in the assassinations, an investigation committee formed on order from President Mohammad Khatami concluded that the murderers were official agents of the State.

The astonishing findings led to a shocking communiqué issued early in January by the Information (Intelligence) Ministry admitting that its agents had carried out the assassinations.

Though the statement said that all the assassins were arrested and will be brought to justice soon, so far none of the alleged murderers nor any cleric, who would have issued the fatwas, or religious orders for the killings, have been identified.

In a communiqué released by his office in Versailles, near Paris, where he lives since he was ousted from presidency by the grand ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeiny in 1980, Mr. Abolhasan Banisadr, Islamic Iran's first president named zealot ayatollahs Mohammad Yazdi, the head of the Islamic Judiciary and Ahmad Jannati, the secretary of the Council of Guardians, both close associates of Mr. Khameneh'i, to have ordered the killing.

According to Mr. Bandar, out of 37 men who have been arrested in connection with the murders, more than 20 of them have been freed. ENDS FALLAHIAN 2549923