Protest prison chief jailed in alleged rape, abuse scandal

The head of the Kahrizak detention centre has been jailed along with three others after defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi (pictured) alleged that detained post-election protesters had been beaten and raped while in detention.


Defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi has alleged that several male and female protesters held behind bars have been savagely raped, according to a document obtained by AFP on Monday.

"A number of detainees have said that some female detainees have been raped savagely. Young boys held in detention have also been savagely raped," Karroubi said in a letter to powerful cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Karroubi's "confidential letter" was delivered on July 29 to Rafsanjani in his capacity as head of the Assembly of Experts, the powerful body which selects and supervises the activities of the supreme leader.


A police statement issued on Thursday confirmed that serious violations took place in Kahrizak prison. The authorities said on Sunday they had jailed the head of the detention centre.


"The head of the centre has been sacked and jailed. Three policemen who beat detainees have been jailed as well," IRNA quoted Iran's police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam as saying.


The June 12 election plunged Iran into its biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution, exposed deepening divisions in its ruling elite and set off a wave of protests that left 26 people dead.


Protests gripped Tehran and other cities after the vote, which moderates say was rigged to secure the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, though officials say it was the "healthiest" vote in the past 30 years.


State media say at least 26 people were killed and hundreds arrested during post-election violence. The judiciary has put some of the detainees on trial to deter further dissent.


Many of those arrested were held in the Kahrizak detention centre in south Tehran, built to house people breaking the vice laws. At least three people died in custody there and widespread anger erupted as news spread of conditions in the jail. 


Torture jail closed


Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the prison's closure in July for "lack of necessary standards" to preserve prisoners' rights, and Ahmadi-Moghaddam said some of those held there since the post-election protests had been tortured.


Moderate websites reported the death of at least three protesters in Kahrizak, including Mohsen Ruholamini, son of a top adviser to conservative defeated presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaie.


Iran's top judge, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, ordered his envoys to visit all "prisons and detention centres" to check on conditions.


Authorities say those detained in post-election unrest have been transferred to Tehran's Evin prison, where many political prisoners are held. They say some 200 protesters remain in prison, 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, Etemad-e Melli newspaper said.


Leading moderates including Mousavi and former president Khatami have called for the immediate release of detainees, saying their confessions were made under duress.


In an attempt to uproot the opposition and end street protests, Iran began two mass trials of moderates, including prominent figures charged with offences that included acting against national security by fomenting voter unrest.


A 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.


French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner urged Iran to free 24-year-old French academic Clotilde Reiss, and rejected accusations against her of spying and helping a Western plot against Iran. "I want to clearly tell the Iranian authorities: these allegations are not true, Clotilde Reiss isn't guilty of anything," Kouchner said on LCI television.


"She did nothing but walk alongside protesters for one hour one time, and 1-1/2 hours another time. She did not submit a report, she sent a brief note to the director of the French Institute for Iranian Research, which is a cultural institute," he said, demanding she be freed.


The French embassy in Tehran was ready to give refuge to Iranian post-election protestors fleeing police, Kouchner said on Monday.

"What was said Saturday was true, if protestors who were being chased had sought refuge in the French embassy the instruction was to open the door," Kouchner was quoted as saying in the Le Parisien/Aujourd'hui en France newspapers.


This is in our democratic tradition," he added.


U.S. national security adviser Jim Jones, speaking on American television, said the United States had urged Iran to release three American hikers who were detained there recently.


"We have sent strong messages that we would like these three young people released as soon as possible, and also others that they have in their custody as well," Jones told NBC's "Meet the Press." The Iranian government acknowledged on Sunday that it had the three Americans in its custody, he said.

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