REV. GUARDS WARNS AGAINST PUSHING INVESTIGATIONS ON HAJJARIAN

By Safa Haeri

PARIS 5TH Apr. (IPS) The Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) officially rejected Tuesday any involvement in the attempted assassination of Mr. Sa'id Hajjarian, the Publisher of the reformist daily "Sobhe Emrouz" (This Morning) and warned against doing with the Guards what one did with the Intelligence Ministry, a reference to the revelation about the secret services active participation in the elimination of Iranian dissidents.

The statement by the Pasdaran was issued as the Intelligence Ministry was at loggerhead with the Judiciary over the handling of the terror case and was interpreted by observers to be a reaction to accusations in reformist camp concerning the participation of the Guards in the operation.

A close friend and adviser to President Mohammad Khatami, Mr. Hajjarian was shot at very close range on 12th March in front of the Tehran City Council by a lone gunman who fled in the back of a powerful motorcycle.

The authorities have announced the arrest of ten men, including the main suspect, the driver of the motorcycle and two others who stopped Mr. Hajjarian presenting him with a request.

Though the authorities insist that the suspects are young zealots who acted on their own, investigations carried out by the reformist press and organisations shows that at lest 3 of the suspects belong to the Revolutionary Guards.

Reminding that it was the Pasdaran that arrested the suspects, the statement called on the authorities to organise a public trial for the terrorists, demanding at the same time that all those who unjustly incriminate the Guards be also brought to justice.

Created by Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, known commonly as Pasdaran, has some 150.000 personnel and possess it's own Air, Land and Marine forces separated from the regular army, plus a large intelligence unit that run parallel to other intelligence and security forces inside and outside Iran.

Though, according to the Constitution, the armed forces, including the Guards, have not the right to intervene in political affairs or take side in the political inter-fight, but it is used by the conservatives, mostly by Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, the leader of the Islamic Republic who is also the supreme Commander of all Iranian Armed Forces, as a lever against the reformists.

Hence, the Guards public opposition to the reforms undertaken by President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami as stated by General Yahya Rahim-Safavi, the Pasdaran's Commander who, days prior to the last legislative elections, had warned against a "parliamentarian coup" by the "liberals", meaning reformists.

Contrary to the conservatives who regards and use the Pasdaran as their Praetorian Guard and are against any reform in this force, the reformist have not good relations with the Revolutionary Guards.

To save the honor of the Guards and prevent the press from digging further in the role played in this shooting by the Pasdaran, Ayatollah Khameneh'i ordered a news black out in order to stop repetition of the scandal that stained the Intelligence Ministry in 1998 after the independent press revealed that senior agents of that ministry had personally assassinated five prominent politician and intellectual dissidents.

Hours after the leader urged the President to spare no efforts in finding the men who shot Mr. Hajjarian, the Pasdaran announced the arrest of the terrorists, without explaining how it happened that they and not the Intelligence machine or the Police arrested the culprits.

Less than 24 hours, the press, disregarding the leader's imposed news black out, revealed that not only the men were in the custody of the Guards in a garrison in Shahre Rey, near Tehran, but also that it refuse to hand them over the to government.

In it's statement published after some senior commanders, including General Rahim-Safavi met with the President, the Guards indirectly warned that they would not allow the same dishonor that stained the Intelligence Ministry be repeated in their case, calling on the government stop further investigations.

It was for this reason, analysts say, that the case was abruptly taken from the Intelligence Ministry and handed to the Islamic Revolution Court.

In a letter to the President, Hojatoleslam Ali Yunesi refutes accusations that some of the detainees were ill treated and wounded under torture, as reported by the Judiciary.

Mr. Yunesi informed the President that investigations are not completed and urged him to designate an investigation committee to look into accusations of torture and ill treatment of the suspects.

Analysts and observers says the reason the suspects were handed over to a specially formed special tribunal at the Islamic Revolution Court is to close the case the soonest possible before it gets out of control, as the public is pressing the government to identify all the "grey and red eminencies" behind the failed elimination of Mr. Hajjarian. ENDS HAJJARIAN PASDARAN 5400