AHMAD BATEBIíS ABDUCTION CONFIRMED

TEHRAN (Reuters) Ė Ahmad Batebi, the Iranian student jailed four years ago for displaying the bloody shirt of a friend wounded in clashes with the regimeís security forces has disappeared after meeting with Ambeyi Ligabo, the United Nationsís Special Rapporteur, his lawyer, Mr. Neímat Ahmadi confirmed Wednesday.

Batebi was arrested after his Jesus Christ-looking picture displaying the blood stained T-shirt over his head was printed on the cover page of the influential British weekly "The Economist", convicted of endangering national security.

He had been photographed during the first major anti-regime demonstrations by Iranian students in July 1999 and condemned to death, but the sentence was reduced to ten years of imprisonment, thanks mostly to national and international pressures.

The pro-democracy protest movement, started as a peaceful demonstration by some 300 students against the closure of a newspaper calling for more tolerance and understanding by the ruling clerics for popular, but mostly the young generationís demands was harshly dealt with on orders from Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, the orthodox ruler of the Islamic Republic, backed by Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami, the President who was elected mostly on the youngsters votes.

His father first reported the news of Mr. Batebiís disappearance on Tuesday, telling the media that his son "disappeared" shortly after meeting Mr. Ligabo at the UN office in Tehran.

At the time of his abduction, Mr. Batebi was on a five-days conditional leave from his prison in Evin, a lap he used to take part in students forums defending freedom of speech and the press.

"After meeting with the UN rapporteur on Saturday, he just vanished", his father said, confirmed by his lawyer, who said Batebiís mobile was also shut.

"If I have no news of my son and if the security of my family is not assured, I will contact human rights defence organisations", the father told the independent Students news agency ISNA.

"We called everywhere, his friends, the judiciary and the prison but nobody has any clue about his whereabouts", the British news agency Reuters quoted Batebiís relative as having said.

In the absence of any reaction from the authorities, including the government, Iranian sources familiar with this kind of abductions speculated that the dissident student might have been arrested on orders from Judge Saíid Mortazavi, the Prosecutor for Tehran and Islamic revolution courts.

"He (mortazavi) might have ordered the abduction of Batebi deliberately, just to show Ligabo and the international community that the Islamic Republic has its own laws independent from the outside world in the one hand and that the Judiciary is independent from the government", one senior analyst told Iran Press Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In his view, the case of Batebi might as well be in connection with the recent bowing of Iran to demands by the International Atomic Energy Agency on nuclear issues, "something that the conservatives considers as a humiliation difficult to swallow".

Abducting dissidents, keeping them in special jails manned by the revolutionary guards outside any supervision and shut to all inspections, where they are subject to various physical and psychological tortures is a current practice of the Iranian ruling clerics.

A protťgť of Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, Mr. Mortazavi is better know as "The Butcher" of the press for having shut down more than a hundred of Iranian publications and jailing a dozen of leading journalists on the orders of his master.

During his five-day stay in Iran, Ligabo met both Mortazavi, Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian lawyer and human rights activist who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and several political dissidents, but none of the jailed political prisoners.

According to informed sources contacted by Iran Press Service, when asked the Judiciary to meet veteran political prisoners, including the Nationalist-religious ones, he was told none of them were in Evin.

Invited by the Iranian government, Ligabo, in a press conference before leaving Tehran, urged the Iranian authorities to release all political prisoners and make way for greater respect for human rights.

ISNA also quoted Iran's prosecutor general Hojjatoleslam Abdolnabi Namazi, as dismissing the integrity of the UN's Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, who spent a week here on a key fact-finding mission.

Namazi complained that Ligabo had raised "secondary and marginal questions" while in Iran, and said he was not expecting a balanced report from the Kenyan diplomat.

"International organisations are generally under the influence of the Zionists who always try to put into question the Islamic republic," Namazi told ISNA.

Menwhile, Batebiís friends have created an ad hoc committee to keep Iranians and the world public opinion informed of his situation, creating the internet site http://freeirancom.persianblog.com and the freeirancom@yahoo.com e-mail service.

In its first press release, the committee had expressed concern about Batebiís physical conditions and called on the authorities to free him "without any conditions" they would go to international organisations.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Reza Alijani, a journalist close to the Nationalst-religious movement is in jail, contrary to what Mr. Ligabo had announced in his press conference, based on information the Iranian Judiciary supplied him.

"Mr. Ligabo told us that he would meet with some political prisoners including Taqi Rahmani, Reza Alijani, Hoada Saber, Abbas Abdi and Qazian, but apparently, he met none of them", said mrs. Nages Mohammadi, the wife of Mr. Rahmani.

However, informed sources said the UN Rapporteur met with some other journalists and scholars detainees in Akbar Ganji, Hashem Aqajari, Siamak Poorzand and Iraj Jamshidi.

But Ligabo said access to the people he wanted to see had largely been satisfied, and added that a number of prisoners he met had complained of serious mistreatment, notably periods of more than 100 days of solitary confinement.

According to the French news agency AFP, Ligaboís report, due for release next March, will be taken into consideration when member states of the United Nations Human Rights Commission decide on whether to forward a resolution condemning Iran. ENDS BATEBI MISSING 121103