The father of a detainee beaten to death in an Iranian prison says he’s satisfied with the way the Islamic government has handled the case — even as it serves as proof imprisoned protesters were abused.
A coroner’s report showed Mohsen Rouhol-Amini, arrested for protesting the June 12 election, died of “repeated blows and severe physical injuries” at Tehran’s Kahrizak prison, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported Monday, citing an informed source. Officials initially had said Rouhol-Amini had died from illness. The report appeared to be the first official confirmation of a detainee’s death from mistreatment. In a statement posted Tuesday on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s Web site, his father, Abdol-Hossein Rouhol-Amini said Khamenei ordered the investigation into the death and other incidents “from the very first hours.” “The leadership is ahead of us … and has been ahead of all efforts since that time,” Rouhol-Amini’s statement said. The “esteemed supreme leader is in the first line of those who require answers for these crimes,” he added. Some experts say such statements speak to a strategy change by Khamenei, who has watched as religious and political leaders try to undermine the credibility of his Islamic establishment. Faced with reformists’ charges of detainee torture, death and rape on his watch, his no-tolerance rhetoric against the opposition has shifted to one demanding justice — if there is sufficient evidence — for mistreated post-election detainees.
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“I think he’s changing his strategy, but I think his endgame remains the same,” Hussein Rashid, an expert in Islam and visiting professor at Hofstra University, told CNN Tuesday. “At this point it’s more damage control.” Khamenei doesn’t want folks like Abdol-Hossein Rouhol-Amini, a campaign adviser to conservative presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei, to line up with critics of the hard-line regime — including opposition leaders Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karrubi, Rashid said. “It’s a dividing tactic,” he said. For his part, Abdol-Hossein Rouhol-Amini said in his statement he “was fully aware that the enemies of the [Islamic] revolution wanted to muddy the waters in order to fish out of it what they wanted.” Khamenei ordered Kahrizak prison closed in late July amid reports that the facility did not measure up to required standards. Mohsen Rouhol-Amini was one of two inmates who died at the prison after they were arrested for protesting the election results, Iranian media reported nearly two weeks after Khamenei’s order. In the wake of the deaths, authorities fired and arrested Kahrizak’s warden. At the time, Gen. Esmaeel Ahmadi Moghadam, commander of Iran’s security forces, in announcing the arrest of the warden, said no one died at Kahrizak from physical abuse and that the inmates died from illnesses. The coroner’s findings, as reported by Mehr, offer credibility to reformists and human rights groups that have accused Iran’s Islamic government of allowing the abuse, torture and rape of post-election detainees.