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Monday, 8 January, 2001, 07:04 GMT
Party-goers arrested in Iran
Women leaving the judicial complex
A detainee (left) charged with "inappropriate dress" leaves the court
The authorities in Iran say they arrested 313 people, some of them foreign businessman, at two private New Year parties in Tehran.

Police said those arrested were men and women who had been found at "depraved parties" drinking alcohol and dancing together - offences punishable under religious law.

Police did not give the identity of those arrested, but the Iranian press has speculated that they include two European women, several foreign investors, diplomatic staff, and what were described as persistent offenders.

The Iranian press agency Irna said the judiciary had not yet issued verdicts against all the detainees, but the rulings ran from whiplashes to prison sentences.

'Inappropriate dress'

Irna said a group of well-dressed Iranians gathered outside the Ershad Judicial complex waiting for news of relatives arrested in the New Year raids.

Most of those arrested are believed to be young Iranians from rich suburbs of north Tehran.

One report said arrests had been made because the guests at one of the parties were dressed in an inappropriate manner.

Other reports said police had discovered "gangs organising corruption and prostitution".

Correspondents say that despite strict rules, western-style parties are a regular occurrence in wealthy Tehran neighbourhoods, and they have been rarely raided by the police.

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See also:

29 Nov 00 | Middle East
Iranian reformist trials to reopen
28 Nov 00 | Middle East
Iran bans popular youth title
19 Jul 00 | Middle East
Iran timeline
20 Dec 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
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