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Iraq Claims Captive Iranian Ex-Oil Minister Committed Suicide

October 23, 1990

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Iraq said Tuesday that a former oil minister of Iran who was captured by Iraqi forces early in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war committed suicide two years later.

The official Iraqi News Agency said its information came from an ″official source″ who was commenting on press reports that Iraq was still holding former Cabinet member Mohammad Javad Tondguyan.

INA, monitored in Nicosia, did not say exactly when or how he died.

The agency said President Turgut Ozal of Turkey, then prime minister, sought to gain Tondguyan’s release on March 22, 1986, during a visit to Baghdad, and that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein told him Tondguyan had committed suicide.

On Monday, Iran accused Iraq of holding Tondguyan in a ″secret prison″ and demanded his immediate release.

Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency said Iran had ″live and documented evidence″ Tondguyan was alive and that Iraq should show good will by releasing him at once.

Tondguyan was captured while on a tour of the fronts in October 1980, a month after the Iran-Iraq war broke out. A cease-fire ended hostilities in August 1988.

Saddam recently agreed to Iran’s terms for a formal peace settlement of their border dispute as he tried to break out of the international isolation that followed his Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait.

Saddam subsequently withdrew his troops from sections of Iranian territory occupied during the conflict. The two Persian Gulf neighbors also have exchanged tens of thousands of prisoners of war.

The Iraqi agency said Iraq formally informed Iran of Tondguyan’s suicide through the International Committee of the Red Cross. It said Iraq also handed over to Iran all papers related to the investigation, a medical report and a death certificate in accordance with provisions of the 1949 Geneva Convention.

749EDT

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