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Riot Police Break Up Iran Protest

April 14, 1998

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ Riot police wielding batons broke up a protest today in Iran by thousands of students demonstrating in support of Tehran’s detained mayor.

Fistfights erupted between supporters of reformist Mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi and his opponents outside Tehran University. Witnesses said about 30 protesters were arrested. Police declined to comment on arrests.

About 300 riot police closed off streets near the university where 4,000 students were protesting and then charged the demonstrators. There were no serious injuries.

Also today, judicial officials said Karbaschi’s trial would begin in about two weeks.

Karbaschi’s arrest has turned into a showdown between supporters of moderate President Mohammad Khatami and his powerful hard-line opponents inside Iran’s Islamic government.

Prosecutors have accused Karbaschi of misappropriating public funds in a wide-ranging corruption scandal in the municipality.

But moderates consider the mayor’s arrest part of an effort by hard-liners to undermine Khatami’s rule.

As Tehran’s mayor since 1989, Karbaschi has improved public services and the appearance of the once-dreary capital. But his management style, which some say is high-handed, has earned him many critics, particularly among hard-liners.

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