TEHRAN, Nov. 29, 1978 (UPI) - Iran's public prosecutor seized Central Bank records and launched an investigation today into charges the country's political elite stashed $2.4 billion in foreign banks during anti-shah rioting last fall.
In new protests, police fired on mourners defying a ban on public demonstrations, and disgruntled power workers plunged Tehran's 4.5 million people into darkness.
Prosecutor Syed Hussein Hashemi ordered the Central Bank to surrender the documents yesterday in the government's first response to charges the shah's relatives, military commanders and high officials sent much of their wealth out of the country.
He said the officials from his office would start examining the records today, and the public would be informed of the results.
But Shahpour Motamed Shirazi, the Central Bank currency controller, insisted the $2.4 billion figure was exaggerated and added the bank had its own list of questionable cash transfers abroad.
"We are prepared to hand that over to the court," Shirazi said.
Authorities yesterday banned traditional self-flagellation ceremonies and outdoor marches in the Shiite religious mourning rites of Moharram beginning Saturday. But widespread defiance of the order was feared.
Prime Minister Gholam Reza Azhari also ordered a drastic Islamization of the country's laws, as yet another concession to the Moslem clergy on the eve of Moharram.
Political sources praised the move, still not set out in detail. They also welcomed a reported new initiative to mediate between the shah's regime and the clergy's powerful exiled leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, now living in Paris.
The Egyptian news agency Mena reported from Amman that Jordan's King Hussein would try to mediate a settlement.
Khomeini, 80, has called on the shah to abdicate and urged his followers to shut down again Iran's $20 billion-a-year oil industry. The wells all but dried up in a crippling strike in October and early this month, but since then output has come back up to near normal.
Tehran's electrical power employees plunged the entire capital into darkness less than 90 minutes before the dusk-to-dawn curfew began yesterday.
Hundred of thousands of cars were caught in horrendous traffic jams, last minute shoppers for food were turned away by shopkeepers, and chaos reigned in the tense capital.
Earlier, troops fired on several hundred mourners marching in the funeral procession of a religious leader, who died of natural causes, in defiance of a martial law ban on public demonstrations.
The shots scattered the crowd, and casualties were not known.