10312014Fri

Iran prosecutor: Blogger died in police custody

The Associated Press

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's state prosecutor confirmed Monday that a jailed blogger died in police custody last week and that wounds were found on his body, the first official confirmation of his death while being held.

The U.S. State Department and a press freedom group have called for investigation of the "suspicious death."

The prosecutor's statement came a day after Iran's parliament announced it would probe reports on the circumstances of Sattar Beheshti's death.

Prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi told reporters that Beheshti was detained Oct. 30 for alleged cybercrimes and taken to Evin prison in north Tehran the next day. Beheshti was handed over to cyber police for interrogation the same day, He died Nov. 3.

"The coroner's office has provided a detailed report saying that signs of wounds were found in five places on this person's body, including foot, hand, back and one of his thighs, but no broken bones," the semiofficial Mehr news agency quoted Ejehi as saying.

Ejehi said a final report on the cause of Beheshti's death may take as long as 45 days to release. He said copy of a letter of complaint in Beheshti's name against his interrogator was found.

The semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Ejehi as saying that Beheshti charged in the letter that he was subject to "threats, insults and beatings."

Ejehi said Iran's judiciary chief, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, has ordered a full inquiry into the death.

The government-owned Iran Network news website said three interrogators involved in the case have been arrested. The website, inn.ir, did not provide further details.

The Tehran police chief, Gen. Hossein Sajedinia, also confirmed that Beheshti died while in cyber police custody.

"The deceased had been handed over to cyber police for completion of investigation under a judicial order for a period of time," Sajedinia told Asr-e-Iran news website Monday.

The 35-year-old Beheshti was said to be a factory worker. He was not a well-known activist.

Dozens of bloggers and journalists have been arrested in widespread crackdowns in Iran in recent years.

In 2010, Iran's parliament played a major role in probing the deaths in detention of three people during the unrest that followed the disputed 2009 presidential elections. The inquiry led to the dismissal of several judicial and police officials.

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