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Possible motive revealed week after renowned Iranian film director and wife stabbed to death

Iran’s judiciary identified Monday a suspect in the stabbing death of director Dariush Mehrjui and his wife as a former domestic worker, saying the motive may have been a financial row.

Mehrjui, 83, and his wife Vahideh Mohammadifar, a 54-year-old screenwriter, were stabbed to death on October 14 at their home in Karaj, a city in Alborz province west of Tehran.

“The defendants were already familiar with the deceased”, official news agency IRNA quoted Alborz province chief justice Hossein Fazeli-Harikandi as saying.

“The main defendant was the gardener” at Mehrjui’s villa in the past, “and he had a grudge against the deceased due to financial issues,” Fazeli-Harikandi said.

Media reports said that out of 10 people detained in the murder case, four had been directly involved.

IRNA on Monday posted videos from the reenactment of the crime scene, showing four individuals entering the house.

Mehruji, according to the footage, is believed to have been sitting on his couch watching TV as the assailants arrived at the villa.

Last week Fazeli-Harikandi said the probe had pointed to “personal differences” as the motive.

Since Mehrjui’s death, tributes have poured in to celebrate the works of the pioneer director, producer and screenwriter, who during his six-decade career was confronted by censorship both before and after the Islamic revolution of 1979.

Mehrjui was best known for his 1969 metaphorical drama “The Cow” as well as his 1990 dark comedy “Hamoun” showing 24 hours in the life of an intellectual tormented by divorce and psychological anxieties.

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