Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Iranian Regime Admits Prisoners Killed by Guards

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Sky News

Iran has acknowledged for the first time that at least three people detained after June's disputed presidential election were beaten to death by prison guards. The acknowledgment follows months of repeated denials by authorities that the deaths of protesters in Iranian custody were caused by abuse. In a statement, the country's judiciary said 12 officials at Kahrizak prison were charged, three of them with murder. "The coroner's office has rejected that meningitis was the cause of the deaths," the judiciary said, "and has confirmed the existence of signs of repeated beatings on the bodies, and has declared that the wounds inflicted were the cause of the deaths." The prison, on the outskirts of the capital Tehran, was at the center of the opposition's claims that prisoners were tortured and raped in custody. The claims embarrassed Iran's clerical rulers, and forced Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to order the closure of the facility.

Authorities had accused the opposition of running a campaign of lies against the ruling system. The opposition says at least 72 protesters were killed in the post-election crackdown, but the government puts the number of confirmed dead at 30. In August, Iran's police chief General Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam admitted that protesters were beaten by their jailers at Kahrizak, but he maintained any deaths in the prison were not caused by the abuse. The opposition's criticism was implicitly aimed at the elite Revolutionary Guard, which operates with some autonomy from the ruling clerics. It was the Revolutionary Guard which led the crackdown and detention of protesters in the weeks after the election. The unrest broke out after Iran's opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, claimed he was robbed of the presidency through massive electoral fraud.