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New Inquiry Targets Ahmadinejad

Iran's president-elect is one focus of an Austrian probe into a Kurdish leader's 1989 slaying.

July 06, 2005|From Reuters

VIENNA — Austrian prosecutors have launched an investigation into whether Iran's president-elect was involved in the 1989 assassination of a Kurdish leader in Vienna, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

Ministry spokesman Rudolf Gollia declined to provide any details.

The state prosecutor's office also confirmed that it was reopening the unsolved murder case.

Tehran reacted angrily, saying that its Foreign Ministry had summoned the Austrian ambassador to demand an explanation.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi denied the accusation against President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying it came out of "Zionist circles."

"It would be better if Austrian officials thought about the two countries' good relations instead of becoming a tool in the hands of those who want to create tension," Asefi said.

Austrian Green Party security spokesman Peter Pilz told a news conference that there was "credible evidence" that Ahmadinejad had been involved in the 1989 assassination of exiled Iranian Kurd opposition leader Abdul Rahman Qassemlou and two other Kurdish politicians in Vienna.

In addition to the president-elect, who was a senior member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard at the time of the killings, Pilz said that former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, whom Ahmadinejad defeated in last month's election, was at the center of the reopened investigation.

Pilz said it was up to the prosecutor's office to decide whether to request that Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad be questioned.

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