TEHRAN: A Sunni cleric who backed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran's disputed June election has been assassinated in a Kurdish-populated region, a news agency reported yesterday.
Fars said Borhan Aali, a Friday prayers leader in western Kurdistan province, was killed by assailants at his home. "He was a prominent cleric in Kurdistan province who worked for Ahmadinejad in the course of the election. He was accepted and respected by all of the people of Sanandaj," the report said.
Governor Mohammad-Taqi Heydari of Sanandaj, the provincial capital, said he believed the attack was linked to hardline Sunni groups seeking to stir discord.
Meanwhile, Tehran has freed a close aide to opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and a prominent lawyer who belongs to Nobel prize winner Shirin Ebadi's rights group, the Ilna news agency reported yesterday.
Alireza Beheshti, the aide who heads an opposition committee looking into alleged abuse of protesters detained after June election, was freed on Saturday night. Lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah was freed yesterday after posting bail of $500,000 (BD18,846).
Mousavi's kaleme.com website added that the grandson of late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Hassan Khomeini, had visited Beheshti yesterday in his home. It did not give details on the bail.
Dozens of people have filed complaints of mistreatment at Kahrizak detention centre where protesters were held. At least three people died in custody there and widespread anger erupted as news spread of conditions in the jail.
According to Irna news agency, a revolutionary court will hold today the fifth hearing in a mass trial of protesters. The country has put more than 140 protesters on trial for contesting the re-election. Those on trial include leading reformist politicians and employees of the British and French embassies.
In Tehran, a reformist cleric will be sued by the government for allegedly insulting Ahmadinejad. In August, hardline newspaper Javan accused Grand Ayatollah Yusef Sanei of abusing Ahmadinejad, but the cleric's office denied the report.
Known for his progressive fatwas, especially on women's rights, he is also a vocal supporter of opposition.