The U.N. commission investigating Iranian grievances today interviewed more than 140 alleged torture victims of the deposed shah's secret police, part of a crowd of mutilated people who poured into Tehran at the urging of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
"This was an occasion for the commission to examine in dramatically live terms the plight of those involved," Samir Sanbar, spokesman for the U.N. panel said. "The commission took careful note of the particulars of every case and observed the marks of mutilation. They were really touched by what they saw."
As the five-man U.N. commission comtinued its hearings into Iranian grievances against the shah, a step that has been expected to contribute to release of the estimated 50 American hostages held in captivity by Islamic militants since Nov 4, there were these other developments:
The ruling Revolutionary Council announced that American journalists, barred from Iran since mid-January for alleged biased reporting could be readmitted if Iranian embassies in their home countries vouch for their impartiality.
Adm. Mahmoud Alavi, commander of Iran's Navy, was arrested for having "contacts with U.S. spies" between the time of the shah's overthrow and the seizing of the U.S. Embassy, Tehran's press and radio reported.
New York lawyer Paul O'Dwyer, hired by Iran and carrying a State Department statement recognizing "the right of Iran to bring legal action in the courts of the United States" to recover its assets, arrived in Tehran to confer with officials on moves to seize the assets of the former shah.
The U.N. commission spent five hours listening to testimony by people, many without arms or legs, who said they had been tortured by SAVAK, the shah's secret police.
Busloads of the mutilated and crippled people came to Tehran and at least a hundred more were prepared to testify when the commission quit hearing witnesses. Still others were said to be traveling from towns and villages throughout the country to give evidence.
Khomeini had urged a big turnout for the commission's hearing, saying it was "essential" that the "crippled of the revolution" testify against the United States, which supported the shah.
The witnesses were being put up at plush hotels in Tehran by Khomeini's Welfare Committee for the Handicapped, Agence France-Presse reported. Some were staying at the Hilton, where the U.N. panel has rooms.
The panel also heard evidence from Ali Reza Nobari, governor of Iran's central bank, on alleged embezzlement by the former royal family.
"We have documents showing that the total amount of money plundered by the former imperial family was 500 bilion rials," about $7 billion, Nobari told reporters afterward.
There was still no indication today whether the panel would see the American hostages, a move that President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr has urged but which has been opposed by the militant captors.
Foreign Minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh said tonight that his ministry was working on a possible visit by the commission to the militants to resolve the issue.
The decision to readmit some American journalists was announced by Hassan Habibi, spokesman for the Revolutionary Council.
All of the nearly 100 American reporters in Iran were ordered out last month but Bani-Sadr, who was since elected president, is known to favor an end to the ban.
Habibi said that only those journalists whose competence to report impartially has been approved by the Iranian Embassy in their own country would be allowed to come to Iran.
Adm. Alavi was charged with having "lose links and friendly relations with the U.S. spies held in the U.S. Embassy," the government newspaper Islamic Republic said.
He had been in contact with agents of the shah's regime and helped many of them escape, the paper said.
Alavi, 51, who holds a degree from Harvard University, became naval commander when Adm. Ahmed Mahdani resigned two months ago to run in the presidential election.
O'Dwyer, 72, a former New York City Council president, told Reuter that he is representing the government of Iran in lawsuits in New York against the former shah and the Pahlavi Foundation, whose vast funds, according to the royal family, which controlled it, were used for charitable purposes.
A promise not to hinder Iranian moves to obtain the return of the shah and his money was one of the conditions set by Bani-Sadr for release of the American hostages.