Tuesday, December 15, 1998 Published at 22:51 GMT
World: Middle East
Thousands attend writer's funeral in Iran
The mourners were asked to show restraint
Some 3,000 people have taken part in a funeral procession in the Iranian capital Tehran for the writer and poet Mohammed Mokhtari, who was killed last week.
His coffin, covered in red flowers, was carried through crowds of relatives, friends, artists and writers, who joined the procession.
One of Iran's best known writers, Mahmud Dowlatabadi, warned the mourners against turning the procession into a political rally, which he said could be misinterpreted in the current tense political atmosphere.
Among the mourners at the funeral was the family of Mohammad Pouyandeh, a writer and translator who was found strangled last week.
Iranian newspapers said Mr Pouyandeh and Mr Mokhtari had planned to form a writer's association, but they were recently summoned to the justice ministry and informed their venture was illegal.
Correspondents say the main suspects of the recent killings are hardliners opposed to Iran's reformist President Mohammad Khatami.
Ayatollah Khamenei has blamed foreign powers for the killings. Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani described the deaths as "a plot by the enemies of the Islamic regime".
Judicial spokesman Fotowat Nassiri Savadkuhi told state television on Monday that Iranian security forces had arrested a number of people in connection with the murders. He said that as soon as they were arrested, they would be punished for their crimes.
He added that investigations would also cover the murder of the head of the Evin Prison, Asadollah Lajevardi, and others.