Iran: authorities to investigate doctor’s death after torture testimony

Iran’s judicial authorities plan to investigate the death of a young doctor who had testified before parliament about prisoner abuses in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election. Dissident websites said that Dr. Ramin Pourandarjani, 26, was killed in order to silence him, as he was the only independent witness to be able to corroborate the charges of torture.

As part of his military service, Dr. Pourandarjani attended to prisoners at Kahrizak, a prison that was shut down in July after several prisoners died there. Opposition websites reported that Dr. Pourandarjani was arrested and held for a week by the authorities, who were trying to pressure him to change his account of what he witnessed at the prison. The government said he died of a heart attack, but one opposition Web site said he had told friends that he feared for his life. (NYT, Nov. 19)

Last week, Human Rights Watch called on Iran’s judicial authorities to investigate allegations of sexual violence and other abuse of protesters detained in the wake of the disputed June 12 election. The rights groups points to the case of a 27-year-old activist whose medical record indicates he was sodomized by a blunt object and beaten severely while in custody. “It’s shameful for Iran’s government to close its eyes to official evidence of severe sexual abuse of detainees by prison authorities,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director. (UPI, Nov. 10)

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