Police Computer to Blame in Latest Escape of Suspects in Assassination
GENEVA (AP) _ For the second time in 10 days, a suspect in the slaying of former Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar slipped through the hands of police because of a mix-up, a police spokesman said.
The suspect’s hotel registration card was inserted into a police computer after he checked into a downtown hotel Monday, but a computer failure delayed the indentification process until Wednesday, said police spokesman Thierry Magnin.
By that time, the suspect, Ali Rad Vakili, had checked out, Magnin said. Vakili was carrying a Turkish passport with the name Musa Kocer, which was registered in the police computer when it checked names of people on the wanted list.
Bakhtiar was fatally stabbed in his home outside Paris on Aug. 6, according to coroners’ reports. Iranian exiles have blamed his assassination on the Iranian government. Tehran has denied the charges.
Vakili and another suspect, Mohammed Azadi, had been briefly detained by Swiss police when they tried to enter the country with forged Swiss visas Aug. 7, one day before Bakhtiar’s body was found.
They were fined $133 and returned to French police, who released them because their French visas were valid.
There has been no trace of Azadi. The third Iranian suspected in the killing, Faridoun Boyer Ahmadi, vanished immediately after the stabbing. His car was later found in Paris with traces of blood in it.
The French television network, Antenne-2 today cited police sources as saying that that Boyer Ahmadi has since called his girlfriend in France from a public pay phone in Germany. It said he did not stay on the line long enough for the call to be traced to a specific location.
Warrants for the arrest of all three suspects have been given to police posts and border control points throughout Switzerland and photos of the wanted men were put up in Geneva buses and streetcars on Thursday afternoon.
Italian and German authorities also have joined in the search for the suspects, according to Swiss news reports.
Bakhtiar, an outspoken critic of the Shah Reza Pahlavi’s policies who had spent five years in prison during his rule, was named prime minister less than a week before the shah left Iran and yielded power to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979. Khomeini denounced his appointment as illegal.