The ruling Revoluntionary Council tonight postponed the second round of Iran's parliamentary elections, and a leading member of the body expressed support for putting the U.S. Embassy hostages on trial.
At a meeting tonight, the council also decided to defer discussion of the possible transfer to government control of the hostages, whose fate is to be decided by the future parliament. A council spokesman said the move of the deposed shah from Panama to Egypt prompted the decision.
Government officials said after the meeting that an inquiry into allegations of fraud in the March 14 first round of the parliamentary elections would take a month to complete, ruling out holding the second round on April 4 as planned.
The officials said they hoped the second round could be held soon after the inquiry commission turns in its report. It began its investigation yesterday.
Earlier today, the Revoluntionary Council's secretary, Ayatollah Mohammed Beheshti, said a trial for the hostages is "the general idea in Iran" and that most council members support it.
However, he declined to predict when such a trial might take place and said a decision on whether to stage it was up to the future parliament, not the Revolutionary Council.
At a news conference, Beheshti also said he favored breaking off diplomatic relations with the United States to demonstrate Iranian independence.
Beheshti was the second senior Iranian clergyman this week to advocate a hostage trial following the shah's flight from Panama to Egypt in the midst of a wrangle over a spleen operation and extradition proceedings.
Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali, Iran's most notorious revolutionary judge, said Monday that after the new Iranian parliament meets, those Americans accused of being spies would be tried and jailed, while the others would be freed.
Foreign Minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh said yesterday, however, that there were no plans to try the Americans and that those demanding a trial were "irresponsible people."