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Khamenei, Khatami orders investigation into Foruhar murder

TEHRAN, Nov 28 (AFP) - Iranian Interior Minister Abdol-Vahed Musavi-Lari vowed on Saturday to track down and arrest the killers of nationalist opposition leader Dariush Foruhar and his wife.

"This case will definitely be clarified. We will not hesitate for one moment. You will see that it will soon be discovered and the people will be informed," Musavi-Lari told a press conference.

"The government is determined to get to the root of the matter and deal with the culprits whoever they may be or whatever their position," he said.

Foruhar, the leader of the Iranian Nation's Party, a movement banned but tolerated, and his wife, Parvaneh, were stabbed to death in their Tehran home over the weekend by intruders posing as guests.

Known for his strongly-held secular and nationalist views, Foruhar, a former labor minister, had been a strong critic of the Islamic regime.

Musavi-Lari said he had been given instructions to "seriously pursue the case" by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mohammad Khatami.

"I assure you that the entire regime is behind the drive to solve the case with authority. They see the bitter incident as a move to fight the regime," he said.

"Some unclean, known or unknown hands are behind this attempt to destroy the new atmosphere of law and order which the government advocates," the minister added.

He said a committee has been set up at the country's national security council to pursue the matter. The committee held a five-hour meeting on Friday and "some clues have been found," he said.

"Several people have been arrested and are being interrogated and some others are being sought. Their arrest may help us find the truth," Musavi-Lari said.

But he said the authorities were still weighing various theories behind the murder case. "So far, we have no preference. I can't make a final judgement," the minister said.

Earlier a group of about 700 academics and liberal opposition sympathisers signed a joint letter denouncing the murder of Foruhar and his wife.

"Once again the criminal hands of the enemies of freedom have savagely killed a hero and his combatant wife," the 673 signatories said in their letter published in the moderate paper Ettelaat.

Signatories, who included former ministers and prominent professionals close to Iran's liberal opposition movement, announced they would gather on Monday in a central Tehran mosque close to the victims' home.

The murder has caused uproar in Iran, with Khatami denouncing it as a "repulsive crime" and ordering a special probe into the case, even though Foruhar was one of the Islamic regime's most outspoken domestic critics.

The victims were buried on Thursday, following funeral ceremonies attended by over 6,000 sympathisers and democracy supporters.
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