NASER ZARAFSHAN, OUTSPOKEN LAWYER ARRESTED

TEHRAN 11 Dec. (IPS) The arrest of Mr. Naser Zarafshan, the outspoken lawyer representing several families victim of the "serial murders" of the late November 1998 was interpreted by Iranian dissidents as "the best prove" that the conservatives are determined to "wrap up" the coming trial of some of the alleged murderers.

Mr. Zarafshan was arrested after he went to an Islamic revolution court that had summoned him and was arrested upon his arrival, informed sources told Iran Press Service.

Sources told IPS that since the authorities had imposed a black out on all news, information, public declarations or announcements etc. concerning the case, Mr. Zarafshan’s recent interviews and the doubts he expressed about the trial could explain his arrest.

The authorities have not announced the news of Mr. Zarafshan arrest, but sources said the leader-led Judiciary was angered by the lawyer’s recent remarks concerning the forthcoming trial of Mr. Mehrdad Alikhani and Mr. Mostafa Kazemi and Mr. Sa’id Emami, alias Eslami, senior officials of the Information (Intelligence) Ministry the authorities say have decided and carried out the savage assassination of five Iranian dissidents.

Mr. Dariush Foruhar, the leader of the secularist Iran People’s Party (IPP) and his wife Parvaneh Eskandari were murdered at their residence in Tehran on 21 November 1998. Those of Mr. Mohammad Mokhtari and Mr. Mohammad Ja’far Puyandeh, writers, Mr. Majid Sharif, a researcher and Mr. Piruz Davani, a leftist activist, followed their murder.

According to investigations, both Mr. Alikhani and Kazemi were personally involved in the assassinations, masterminded by Mr. Emami, the senior Deputy Intelligence Minister under Hojatoleslam Ali Fallahian and Hojjatoleslam Qorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi, former Intelligence Ministers.

Mr. Eslami reportedly committed suicide in prison, but his friends and colleagues, like Hojjatoleslam Ruhollah Hoseinian, also a high-ranking official at the same ministry and Mr. Hosein Shaiatmadari, an official interrogator of dissident intellectuals appointed by Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i as the Editor of "Keyhan" the mouthpiece of the intelligence community, insist that he had been killed.

After the Judiciary Organisation of Armed Forces (JOAF) announced that the trial of Mr. Alikhani and Mr. Kazemi would start late December, Mr. Zarafshan doubted that it would lead to any concrete result.

Speaking to Iranian media abroad, including the Persian services of BBC or Radio France Internationale (RFI), Mr. Zarafshan warned that the files related to the "serial murders" are not complete, presents plenty of contradictions and most important, all declarations of Mr. Emami, the mastermind behind the assassination of tens of Iranian dissidents inside and outside the country as well as his confessions to the interrogators are missing.

He also noted that nowhere Mr. Alikhani or Mr. Kazemi have mentioned Mr. Emami, let alone to consider him as the mastermind behind the assassinations.

Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Niazi, the Head of the JOAF confirmed Saturday this observation, explaining that Mr. Eslami’s declaration and confessions to interrogators contained "secret and classified materials not related to the serial murders".

He also confirmed that based on the judge’s ruling, Mr. Najafabadi had been cleared of all suspicions and accusations concerning his responsibility in the murders.

Prominent Iranian investigative journalist and researcher Mr. Akbar Ganji had charged that like Mr. Fallahian, Mr. Najafabadi was also involved in the killings as he also was the boss of Mr. Emami and his gangs of murderers.

Mr. Ganji is currently in prison, awaiting sentence.

"All this confirm one point everybody in this country knew from the outset and that is the authorities all out efforts to stop the investigations reach the real culprits, meaning the senior clerics who issued the orders for the murder, and their number could be counted on one’s five fingers", one lawyer for the families of the victims pointed out. ENDS ZARAFSHAN ARRESTED 111200