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Group: Missing Iranian’s Body Found

December 9, 1998

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ The body of a prominent Iranian writer missing since last week was found Wednesday in a Tehran morgue, an international human rights group said, adding that he appeared to have been murdered.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said morgue workers reported the presence of Mohammed Mokhtari’s body to his family.

Mokhtari’s family or government officials in Iran could not be reached for immediate comment.

Marks on Mokhtari’s head and neck indicated that he had been murdered, possibly by strangulation, although no autopsy has yet been carried out, the Human Rights Watch said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press in Cairo, Egypt.

This was the latest in a series of deaths under suspicious circumstances of prominent critics of the Iranian government, the statement said.

It said Mokhtari, who was last seen alive last Thursday while going to a shop, was briefly arrested with five other writers in October 1998.

The writer’s association to which he belongs wrote a letter to authorities asking them to look into his disappearance.

Increasingly, hard-line rivals of moderate President Mohammad Khatami are resorting to violence to deal with opponents. Over the past year, vigilantes have attacked dissidents, liberal newspapers and even a reformist Cabinet minister.

Nobody has been charged in any of the attacks, leading to suspicions a campaign of violence is being backed by powerful hard-line clerics like spiritual leader Ali Khamenei and Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, the head of the judiciary.

Last month, the head of an Iranian opposition group, Dariush Foruhar, and his wife Parvaneh were stabbed to death in their home.

Police said they’ve made several arrests in the murders of the Foruhars, after Khatami condemned the killings and ordered an investigation. But the findings have not been made public.