Iran's judiciary said to be examining death of prison doctor

By Thomas Erdbrink
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TEHRAN -- Iran's judiciary is investigating the death of a military doctor who served in a detention center that has come under scrutiny for alleged abuses, including the suspicious deaths of three anti-government demonstrators, Iranian news media reported Tuesday.

A parliamentary committee plans to issue a report soon on the Kahrizak prison, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency said. The makeshift detention center was closed in July on the orders of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, because of substandard conditions.

The prison became the focus of a rare investigation into police conduct after the death of Mohsen Rouholamini, the son of a former senior Health Ministry official. Authorities said he and two others died of meningitis, but Rouholamini's father said his son was tortured to death.

Former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, a Shiite cleric, publicly accused security forces in August of having tortured and raped detainees in Kahrizak, an allegation that government officials denied. In a raid on Karroubi's office in September, security forces confiscated witness reports, names and addresses. Amid a public furor over the alleged abuses, state media dismissed Karroubi's assertions as exaggerated and false.

In October, Brig. Gen. Ahmad-Reza Radan, deputy chief of the national police, said 10 people were under investigation for their behavior in the facility. He described the issue as "minor."

Anti-government Web sites reported that Ramin Pourandarjani, a 26-year-old doctor who died a week ago, had treated Rouholamini and had testified before the parliamentary committee, which is looking into the violence that followed Iran's disputed June 12 presidential election. The sites said Pourandarjani was detained for a week by police, who forced him to stop talking about what he had seen in the prison.

In a meeting with the committee, Pourandarjani "revealed the details of the crimes committed in Kahrizak," including the death of Rouholamini, the site reported. It quoted friends of the doctor as saying he "feared for his life" after the meeting.

Authorities said Pourandarjani suffered a heart attack while sleeping in his quarters at the Tehran police medical center, where he was finishing a 19-month stint of obligatory military service, according to the Web site.

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