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France to Probe Killing of Iranian

French authorities plan to investigate the 1999 killing of a top Iranian general, which was claimed by an Iranian opposition group based in France, judicial officials said Monday.

Brig. Gen. Ali Sayyad Shirazi, deputy chief of the joint staff command of the Iranian armed forces, was gunned down in April 1999 in front of his home in Tehran by men dressed as city cleaners. The People’s Mujahedeen of Iran claimed responsibility.

The new investigation stems from a complaint Shirazi’s family filed with the French justice system two years ago for "murder and complicity in murder," judicial officials said on condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing.

French judicial authorities say they have the authority to investigate the case because the political wing of the People’s Mujahedeen is based in Auvers-Sur-Oise, north of Paris.

The People’s Mujahedeen, which seeks the overthrow of Iran’s Islamic government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department and the European Union. Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein let the group operate camps in Iraq from which it staged attacks on Iran.

The group says it is a peaceful movement of exiled Iranian opponents, and that its militants in Iraq have handed their weapons over to U.S.-led forces. A representative did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.

France’s justice system has been investigating the People’s Mujahedeen since 2001. In 2003, French police carried out a sweep against the group and dozens of members were arrested, including Maryam Rajavi, the head of the group’s political wing. The operation set off protests, with two Mujahedeen supporters burning themselves to death.

Seventeen people, including Rajavi, were placed under investigation” a step short of being charged” on suspicion of associating with or financing terrorist groups. She was held for about two weeks before being released.

The Associated Press –  September 17, 2007


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