Iran jails detention centre chief after vote death
Reza Derakhshi – Reuters August 9, 2009
Iran has jailed the head of the Kahrizak detention center after at least three people died in custody in the southern Tehran prison and the judiciary held mass trials of detainees arrested over post-election unrest.
"The head of the center has been sacked and jailed. Three policemen who beat detainees have been jailed as well," the official IRNA news agency quoted Iran's police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam as saying.
Kahrizak was built for jailing violators of Iran's vice laws. A police statement issued on Thursday confirmed that serious violations took place at Kahrizak.
Ahmadi-Moghaddam also confirmed that some post-election detainees had been tortured in Kahrizak prison, which Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered closed in July for "lack of necessary standards" to preserve rights of prisoners.
The June 12 presidential vote plunged Iran into its biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution and exposed deepening divisions in its ruling elite.
Protests gripped Tehran and some other cities after the vote, which moderates say was rigged to secure the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but officials say it was the "healthiest" vote in the past 30 years.
State media say at least 26 people have been killed and hundreds arrested in post-election violence.
Moderate websites reported the death of at least three protesters in Kahrizak, including the son of a top adviser to conservative defeated presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaie.
After Mohsen Ruholamini's death in Kahrizak, Iran's top judge Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi ordered his envoys to visit all "prisons and detention centers."
The center became the source of even more controversy when two more Kahrizak detainees later died in a hospital.
Authorities say the vote unrest detainees have been transferred to Tehran's notorious Evin prison, where many political prisoners are held.
The authorities say some 200 post-election protesters remain imprisoned, including senior pro-reform politicians, journalists, activists and lawyers.
Iranian prosecutor Qorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi said all necessary legal measures would be taken against those "who had violated the law" in Kahrizak, the Etemad-e Melli newspaper reported.
Leading moderates including defeated candidate Mirhossein Mousavi and former president Mohammad Khatami have called for the immediate release of detainees, saying their confessions have been made under duress.
In an attempt to uproot the opposition and to end street protests, Iran held two mass trials of moderates, including several prominent figures, charged with offences that included acting against national security by fomenting vote unrest.
An Iranian Revolutionary Court on Saturday charged a French woman, two Iranians working for the British and French embassies in Tehran and dozens of others with spying and assisting a Western plot to overthrow the system of clerical rule.
Espionage and acting against national security are punishable by death under Iran's Islamic law.
Mousavi and another moderate defeated candidate Mehdi Karoubi say Ahmadinejad's next government will be illegitimate, defying Khamenei, who formally endorsed Ahmadinejad on Monday.
A group of hardline lawmakers plan to file a complaint against Mousavi for being "the driving force behind the vote turmoil," Iranian media reported. Such a move may trigger street protests.
Ahmadinejad was sworn in by parliament last Wednesday and has until August 19 to name his cabinet.
(Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Michael Roddy)
Last updated 13/08/2009