Khomeini orders inquiry on jail torture reports

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ordered an inquiry into reports of torture in Iran's jails, a highly charged issue because of its echoes of brutality during the late Shah's rule. The pars News Agency said the inquiry was announced by Iran's prosecutor general after a meeting with Ayatollah Khomeini, who said to be "very upset" over the torture rumors.

Controversy over the issue flared after President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr mentioned torture in prisons in a speech nearly three weeks ago. Since then the topic has become part of the feud between Iran's two main political power bloc, supporters of President Bani-Sadr and those of the Muslim fundamentalist Islamic Republican party. Backers of the President have reported alleged cases of torture while party supporters, who largely control the country's penal system, have hotly denied them. Pars said Ayatollah Khomeini ordered that members of the committee checking the torture reports should not be affiliate with any group or party, to ensure impartiality. He will also have his own representative on the panel, "so as to inspire greater confidence."

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