London, 10 Jan – A woman who accused Iranian MP Salman Khodadadi of rape was found dead in her home in East Azarbaijan Province on Sunday, with the cause of death as yet unknown, but many are speculating foul play.
Zahra Navidpour, 28, had told the Human Rights Activists News Agency that she received constant threats on her life from Khodadadi, the chair of the parliament’s Social Commission, and those close to him, some of which were recorded
She had even written a letter in October to the judge presiding over her rape case saying that her life was “in danger” and that they’d threatened to peel her skin off if she did not retract her complaint.
The letter read: “It’s been around two weeks that I’ve been threatened by (Salmas Khodadadi) and his people. They tell me that I have to retract my complaint and say that the head of the Malekan Revolutionary Guards Corps made me file the complaint.”
The letter was published by HRANA in their report on Navidpour’s death. The report also said that Navidpour had taken her case to the every other government body that she thought would help her, including the Judiciary.
On October 29, she told HRANA: “None of the government bodies cares what happens to me. They only think of him. I have no security. I’ve been hiding out for the past eight days because I’m afraid for my life. Who should I talk to? Who will listen to me?”
The rape trial
Navidpour reported that Khodadadi had sexually abused and raped her for four years after he promised to find her a job in the Accounting Court of Tehran.
He has previously been arrested and detained on numerous occasions, for moral corruption, having an illegitimate relationship, and raping other women. Despite this, he still serves as an MP.
In the rape trial, Navidpour was barred from attending the first court session and Khodadadi denied all the charges.
In the second session, at which Khodadadi was not present, Navidpour told the HRANA that the judge accused her of lying, asked her personal questions that caused her to feel “nauseous from shame”, and wanted to close the case. Then, Navidpour produced an audio file of a phone call between herself and Khodadadi, in which he admitted to raping her and then threatened her.
In the third court session, which took place on October 6, 2018, in the 1st Branch of the Tehran Penal Court, Khodadadi initially denied the charges but confessed once the evidence was presented to him.
He told the court: “I did commit rape and I’ve done it a couple of times because I wanted to!”
Despite this, he was released on bail an hour later.
The judge told Navidpour that a decision would be issued in 10 days, but the case was never pursued. Navidpour tried to get the case restarted, even contacting the powerful Guardian Council, but she was told to “forget” the abuse and move on with her life.
She also told HRANA that a member of the intelligence agency told her to have a relationship with him, whilst she was pursuing her case, or to “work as a prostitute” to make money.