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Wednesday, 17 May, 2000, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Iran jails Hajjarian gunman
Tehran trial
Asgar and his accomplices were right-wing vigilantes
By Tehran correspondent Jim Muir

The man convicted of shooting leading Iranian reformist Saeed Hajjarian, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

His accomplices received lighter sentences, while three others charged in the case were acquitted.

The main suspect in the case, Saeed Asgar, admitted in court that it was he who shot Mr Hajjarian through the head in a Tehran street in early March before making his escape on the back of a motorcycle.

Asgar and seven other men were arrested a few days later, while Mr Hajjarian fought for his life in a Tehran hospital.

Saeed Hajjarian
Mr Hajjarian remains paralysed
He survived and was discharged recently. He remains badly paralysed; the single bullet fired by Asgar is still lodged in his neck.

In court, it emerged that Asgar and his accomplices belonged to a gang of right-wing vigilantes based in a poor suburb of southern Tehran.

Asgar was jailed for 15 years, both for the attack on Mr Hajjarian and also for taking part in an earlier similar shooting offence.

His main accomplice, Mohsen Majidi, who drove the motorcycle, was given 10 years for this and two other similar offences.

Another accomplice was jailed for seven years, two others convicted of related firearms offences were given lesser sentences, while another three men were acquitted.

The main reformist party in which Saeed Hajjarian is a leading figure has not been impressed by the trial.

Case 'hurried through'

In a statement issued after the proceedings had ended but before the verdict, it wondered why the accused were apparently taking the affair so lightly and showing no signs of remorse.

It said the court had made no attempt to clarify contradictions that emerged during the testimonies, nor had it tried to identify what it called the circles which brought these young people together.

This reflected a strong suspicion in reformist quarters that the case was hurried through to avoid the investigation spreading to higher circles.

The defendants said they had acted independently.

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See also:

12 Mar 00 | Middle East
Leading reformer shot in Iran
12 Mar 00 | Middle East
Khatami: Shooting will 'unite people'
12 Mar 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Who wanted Hajjarian dead?
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