Authorities have fired and arrested the chief of an Iranian jail that was closed amid allegations of mistreatment of detainees held for protesting June’s disputed election, Iranian media reported Sunday.
“One security official at the prison, who was responsible for reporting irregularities at the prison, as well as the prison warden have been sacked and are under arrest,” Gen. Esmaeel Ahmadi Moghadam, commander of Iran’s security forces, told the semi-official Iran Student’s News Agency. Iran’s Press TV said the move comes in the wake of the deaths of two inmates who had been arrested for protesting the results of June 12 presidential election. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, ordered the Kahrizak facility shut down amid reports it did not measure up to the required standards, Press TV reported. A Tehran member of Parliament, however, told ISNA that “a number of young people” died at the prison, and held Moghadam responsible. “[The] commander of the security forces is responsible in this matter and must be held answerable,” Hamidreza Katoozian said. “Saying he did not know is not acceptable because he received daily reports [regarding conditions in Kahrizak].”
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Moghadam said, according to ISNA, “I intend to take responsibility, but from the very beginning I had said that students should not be held at Kahrizak and should not be detained with criminals. Nevertheless they were sent to Kahrizak by the order of the judiciary. The reason was lack of detention space elsewhere, and I don’t think that was proper.” But he said no one died at Kahrizak from physical abuse. “The coroner is investigating the deaths in order to determine the source of their illness and the virus that caused their deaths.” He said three people who “on their own initiative inflicted severe physical punishment on prisoners have been arrested and the victims can file complaints against them.” Katoozian told ISNA that “the constitution is quite clear on how to deal with murderers. Therefore, just arresting two officers will neither bring the dead back to their families, nor will it make up for the insult to the Islamic Republic by these people.” The prison held a number of those arrested for protesting the election, in which incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected to a second term despite widespread claims of fraud by supporters of opposition candidates. In ordering the facility’s closure, Khamenei said officials must “precisely” investigate claims of mistreatment, obey the law and follow up on detainees’ fate, Saeed Jalili, head of Iran’s National Security Council, told Press TV last month.