News / Middle East

Iranian Parliament to Investigate Death of Blogger

Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti posted on the Iranian opposition website.
Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti posted on the Iranian opposition website.
Iran's attorney general, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje'ii said in a press conference Monday that Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti's body was bruised.

He cited forensic reports which said five areas on his body showed bruising, including his leg, calves, hands, and shoulders.

On Sunday, the deputy head of the Iranian parliament, Mohammad Aboutorabi, called for the formation of a special committee to investigate Beheshti's death.

Aboutorabi said the investigation should be completed as quickly as possibile.

Ayatollah Amoli Larijani, head of the judicial system in Iran, also issued a call for an immediate investigation into Beheshti's death, saying all responsible should be brought to justice immediately. The call came Sunday in a statement by the High Council for Human Rights.
Another member of parliament, Ahmad Tavakoli, had warned about the silence of the judiciary and the foreign ministry regarding the death of Beheshti, according to Mehr. He added that officials need to go after corrupt officials instead of going after bloggers and the media.

A journalist in Tehran told VOA that more foreign support for the blogger [Beheshti], means less possibility that his case will be fully investigated but that if more people inside, like Tavakoli, follow up, the chances are higher that the investigation wil gain traction.

Opposition website Kaleme reported that Iran's attorney general, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje'ii,  will hold a press conference Monday to answer questions about Beheshti's death.

Beheshti, 35, was arrested in his home in late October, and his family was asked on Wednesday to pick up his body from a detention center in Tehran.

In his last posting before being arrested, Beheshti wrote that security services had threatened him - saying his mother "would soon be wearing black" if he continued speaking out.

On Friday, the U.S. State Department demanded Iranian authorities investigate his death while in custody last week.

France and Britain are also calling on Iran to explain Beheshti's death.

Human rights groups Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have joined in calling on Iran to release details of his death.

Hadi Ghaemi, a spokesman for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said cases like Beheshti's are not uncommon.

"Our organization has documented at least 17 deaths of political prisoners inside Iranian prisons since 2003," he said. "There is no doubt Beheshti was taken to custody, died within less than a week, and his body is already buried without allowing family to have access to it or have an autopsy performed."

He added that the facts of the case were irrefutable and that if the death had been due to natural causes, Iranian authorities could have easily proven it by allowing an autopsy.

Ordinary Iranians are skeptical anything will be done to address Beheshti's death.

A business owner in Tehran told VOA he thinks that in the best case scenario, a few officers who carried out orders will be charged, but those who gave the orders will not face punishment. 

Beheshti's case recalls the 2003 case of Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian-Iranian photographer, who was arrested and later died while in custody. While her case received a lot of international scrutiny, and even some parliamentary discussions, no one was held accountable for her death.

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