Iran General NewsIran panel says prisoner rape charges are false

Iran panel says prisoner rape charges are false

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ImageNew York Times: An Iranian judicial committee rejected accusations put forward by the opposition that its supporters had been raped at detention centers, calling them baseless, and ruled that documents presented as evidence of rapes and other abuse were fabricated, Fars news agency reported Saturday. The New York Times

By NAZILA FATHI

ImageTORONTO — An Iranian judicial committee rejected accusations put forward by the opposition that its supporters had been raped at detention centers, calling them baseless, and ruled that documents presented as evidence of rapes and other abuse were fabricated, Fars news agency reported Saturday.

The announcement was yet another indication that the government might be ready to arrest Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who have continued to assail the country’s leaders over a disputed presidential election in June and the crackdown on protesters that followed. Both men were named in the committee’s report. Although only Mr. Karroubi made the rape allegations, Mr. Moussavi has leveled accusations of torture and deaths at detention centers.

The rape accusations have been especially embarrassing for the country’s religious leadership, which only reluctantly admitted that there had been some other “violations” at one detention center. That admission came after many former prisoners came forward to say they had been tortured, and after conservatives, whose loyalty the government needs, joined a chorus of criticism against the treatment of detainees.

Last week, the government raided the offices of Mr. Moussavi and Mr. Karroubi and seized evidence that the men were collecting to substantiate allegations of mistreatment and deaths of prisoners. On Saturday, in what appeared to be another attempt to quiet critics of prisoner treatment, the authorities said that they were holding seven suspects for alleged violations at the Kahrizak detention center, which was recently closed by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The judicial committee’s ruling came just one day after Ayatollah Khamenei issued a warning to opposition leaders, saying the government would not tolerate “lies and rumors,” and would give a “harsh response” to those who challenged its principles.

Sadeq Larijani, head of the judicial system, agreed to the committee’s proposal to send its findings to a court to lay out charges against those who “propagated lies and false accusations,” which appeared to be a reference to Mr. Moussavi and Mr. Karroubi.

“The theme of the report suggests that the authorities can no longer tolerate the accusations and want to arrest Mr. Karroubi and Mr. Moussavi,” said one lawyer in Tehran who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the issue. “Rape charges are very serious in our culture and the literature used in the report suggests that the authorities fear the reputation of the regime has been jeopardized.”

Also on Saturday, an independent Web site, rouydadnews.com, said the Supreme National Council, which is led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, banned newspapers from writing about Mr. Moussavi and Mr. Karroubi. Newspapers have been covering the men and some of their accusations, despite government pressure. Mr. Karroubi and Mr. Moussavi ran in the presidential elections and have led a movement to invalidate the result: what was said to be a landslide victory for Mr. Ahmadinejad. They have charged that Mr. Ahmadinejad falsified the results and used violence to end the huge protests that followed.

Mr. Moussavi’s office announced this month that at least 72 people have been killed since June 12, while the authorities have said that many fewer died.

The announcement about the seven suspects being held on allegations of abuse at the Kahrizak detention center was made by the head of the Armed Forces’ Judicial Organization, Mohammad Kazem Bahrami., according to Fars news agency. He said that the suspects included the head of the Kahrizak detention center. He added that 104 detainees who were injured at the center had come forward, out of which 90 made formal complaints; the rest testified as witnesses. Kahrizak was one of several detention centers where protestors were held after the election.

Ayatollah Khamenei ordered the closing of the center last month after news about the killing of at least one man, the son of a former senior military commander and an influential conservative, was revealed.

The authorities first denied claims by Abdolhossein Ruholamini, the former commander, who said his son, Mohsen Ruholamini, was tortured to death. A government news agency originally reported that the young Mr. Ruholamini had died of meningitis.

However, the semiofficial Mehr news agency posted the official autopsy report on Aug. 31, which said Mr. Ruholamini died after “physical stress, bad conditions, repeated heavy blows.”

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