TITLE=IRAN PARDON (L)
INTRO: In Iran, the former mayor of Tehran, who was
instrumental in the election of Iran's reformist
president, has been pardoned after serving nine months
of a two-year prison sentence for corruption. V-O-A
Middle East Correspondent Scott Bobb reports the
former mayor was released three weeks before Iran's
TEXT: Official Iranian news media reports say former
Mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi has been granted a
pardon by Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah
The reports say as a result, Iranian judicial
officials have cancelled the remainder of his prison
sentence and ordered his release.
Mr. Karbaschi is a supporter of reformist President
Mohammed Khatami, who was elected nearly three years
ago pledging greater freedoms in Iranian society.
As mayor of Tehran, Mr. Karbaschi came under fire from
conservative politicians and their supporters in the
business community. He was convicted in mid-1998 of
embezzlement in a televised trial that gripped the
nation. During the trial, he said the charges against
him were politically motivated.
Mr. Karbaschi was convicted and sentenced originally
to five years in prison, 20 lashes of the whip, and a
20-year ban on political activity. However, the
sentence was reduced on appeal to two years in prison,
a fine of about one-half-million dollars, and a 10-
year ban from politics.
Mr. Karbaschi was head of a centrist faction called
the Executives of Construction that is a strong
supporter of President Khatami. His release comes
three weeks before parliamentary elections are to be
held in Iran, but it is not clear if his pardon will
allow him to reenter the political arena.
Hundreds of primarily reformist candidates in the
upcoming elections have been disqualified by a special
religious committee. The committee said the
candidates did not fully support the religious
government established under the Iranian revolution.
The disqualified candidates include another prominent
ally of the president, former interior minister and
chairman of the Tehran city council, Abdullah Nouri.
Mr. Nouri is currently serving a two-year prison
sentence after being convicted two months ago of
insulting Iran's religious leaders in articles
published by his newspaper. (Signed)
25-Jan-2000 12:00 PM EDT (25-Jan-2000 1700 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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