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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Pahlavi family says mummified body likely to be that of shah of Iran

Heir apparent calls on republic's government to allow for 'appropriate' burial of his grandfather'

<p>Reza Shah Pahlavi, hands second son, Ali Reza, commission as officer at graduation exercises at Iran&#39;s &quot;West Point&quot; in Tehran, Iran prior to Anglo-Russian action in August 1941. The discovery in Iran of a mummified body near the site of a former royal mausoleum has raised speculation it could be the remains of the late Reza Shah Pahlavi, founder of the Pahlavi dynasty. AP / File&nbsp;</p>
<p>Reza Shah Pahlavi, hands second son, Ali Reza, commission as officer at graduation exercises at Iran&#39;s &quot;West Point&quot; in Tehran, Iran prior to Anglo-Russian action in August 1941. The discovery in Iran of a mummified body near the site of a former royal mausoleum has raised speculation it could be the remains of the late Reza Shah Pahlavi, founder of the Pahlavi dynasty. AP / File&nbsp;</p>

Reza Pahlavi said on Tuesday that a mummified body recently discovered in Tehran is likely to be that of his grandfather Reza Shah, the father of the last shah of Iran.

Mr Pahlavi, the heir apparent, said that he and his family have been working to collect and assess information and to verify reports.

Workers on Tuesday morning discovered the remains of Shah at the Shiite shrine of Abdul Azim when a digger removing debris uncovered the body, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

"We ask that the current regime and its officials afford our family access to the body, through medical doctors and scientific experts trusted and selected by us," Mr Pahlavi tweeted.

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The exiled Iranian heir called for his grandfather's remains to be buried again "in an appropriate manner respecting the wishes of our family and the Iranian people," before asking Iranians to join and support the House of Pahlavi through peaceful public protests and social media activism.

The matter, he said, carries significant cultural and historical significance "as Reza Shah belongs to all Iranians".

As of Wednesday, state television had yet to report on the find, possibly because of restrictions on discussing the Pahlavi family.

State media typically refers to the Persian dynasties, including the Pahlavis, as "despotic," focusing on the abuses of the monarchs' feared Savak intelligence agency and their lavish lifestyles.

Reza Shah died in South Africa in 1944 and his body was mummified in Cairo, where it remained for years before being returned to Iran. He was placed in a grand mausoleum near Tehran.

After the 1979 revolution, however, the new regime in Tehran viewed the mausoleum as an affront.

Iranian cleric Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali, who ordered the murders of hundreds after the revolution, led a mob of supporters who used sledgehammers, jackhammers and other tools to demolish the mausoleum.

Khalkhali later would write in his memoirs that he believed the shah's family took Reza Shah's body when they fled the country.

However, said Mr Pahlavi, suggestions that Reza Shah's body may have been removed from Iran are unfounded.

Authorities say they will need to conduct DNA tests to confirm the identity of the body.