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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

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 
parliamentary elections.
TEXT:  Official Iranian news media reports say former 
Mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi has been granted a 
pardon by Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah 
Ali Khomeini.  
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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