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Death of a Blogger | Call for Top E-Cop to Resign; Police Admit 'Negligence'

by DAN GEIST

27 Nov 2012 23:42Comments
HadianfarLaptopMoghaddam.jpg [ in focus ] The legislator heading the investigation by the Majles's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission into the prison death of blogger Sattar Beheshti has called for the resignation of Iran's cyber police chief. The national police chief meanwhile acknowledged that police and prison officers committed multiple acts that "can be regarded as a kind of negligence" in the case.

Majles deputy Mehdi Davatgari, who heads the special subcommittee established by the National Security Commission to look into Beheshti's November 3 death in Evin Prison, told the Fars News Agency that Beheshti had been detained without a proper court order and in "completely illegal" circumstances. Referring to Brigadier General Kamal Hadianfar (pictured here at far right and on homepage), Davatgari declared, "Only the resignation of the head of the cyber police can redeem this institution from the errors that took place in this case at such a heavy cost to the system." Hadianfar has commanded Iran's cyber police force since it was launched in January 2011.

Beheshti lived in the Tehran suburb of Robat Karim, where he was arrested at his home by officers of the cyber police force on October 30. The 35-year-old had been operating a blog, Magalh 91, in which he was critical of his country's government and what he described as its profligate violation of Iranians' human rights. In his final blog post, dated one day before his arrest, he addressed the Islamic Republic's highest authorities:

For you, sirs, intend to silence everyone, one by one, even in privacy, anyone who intends to raise his or her voice. Don't threaten us anymore, for fear has no place in our hearts anymore. Neither the whip nor torture can frighten us or prevent us from informing others.

Reports from both Evin Prison and the Kahrizak coroner's facility, where his body was turned over to family members, indicate that Beheshti was subjected to severe beatings and torture before his death. The state coroner has asserted that, while Beheshti's body indeed "bore signs of beating," he "died from natural causes."

At a press conference held to address the case on Tuesday, Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, the Islamic Republic's top police commander (pictured above at far left), stated, "Investigations are being carried out by the judicial apparatus. The point that a [Majles] representative has recently stated is that the conditions at the detention center in Robat Karim were not favorable, and this issue can be investigated. It has been asked, 'Why was this person transferred from Evin Prison during a holy day?"... This can be regarded as a kind of negligence." Beheshti was evidently transferred from the detention facility in his hometown on November 2 -- a Friday, the Muslim holy day -- to Evin in Tehran, where he died the following day.

SatarBeheshtiAndMotherHome2.jpgAhmadi Moghaddam pointed to other instances of arguable "negligence" in the circumstances of Beheshti's detention: The blogger was prescribed sedatives at one of the facilities where he was detained -- most likely in Robat Karim -- but was subsequently denied access to the drugs, according to the account of the press conference that appeared in the semiofficial Tehran Times, "because the necessary prescription and the permit to take them were not available." Apparently describing the circumstances of Beheshti's detention in Evin, Ahmadi Moghaddam also noted that he was held in an "administrative section" rather than in one of the official detention areas, which are monitored by camera.

The police chief concluded that there was "no motivation" to kill Beheshti and that he had probably died of "shock." Iranian authorities have previously suggested that the blogger's death was related to preexisting "heart problems." His relatives have stated that Beheshti was neither suffering from any health problems nor taking any medication before his arrest.

Over the past two weeks, state-controlled and -aligned media outlets have reported that several people have been arrested in connection with Beheshti's death, but no details on the identities of those people or the nature of their alleged involvement in the case have been forthcoming.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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