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DATE=1/25/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=IRAN PARDON (L) NUMBER=2-258418 BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: 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) NEB/SB/JWH/KL 25-Jan-2000 12:00 PM EDT (25-Jan-2000 1700 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .