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Ayatollah closes jail holding election protestors

Article published on the 2009-07-28 Latest update 2009-07-28 14:25 TU

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, 16 June 2009.(Photo: Reuters)

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, 16 June 2009.
(Photo: Reuters)

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the closure of a jail holding protestors arrested after last month’s presidential election. Officials said the decision was taken to end the reported torture and abuse which has led to the deaths of several released detainees.

“The supreme leader has issued a strict order to ensure there is no injustice committed against anyone in the aftermath of the recent events,” said National Security Council secretary Saeed Jalili. “As an example, he has ordered the closure of a detention centre which was not up to required standards,” he said in a statement on state television.

Recent reports of prisoner deaths have enflamed supporters of defeated reform candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi, who continue to contest the legitimacy of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection.

On Monday, Iranian media reported the death of Ramin Ghahremani, 30, who was arrested 17 July during a demonstration. Hung by his feet during his detention, he succumbed to wounds he received two days after his release.

Not much is known about the jail, niether its location, the number of detainees there, nor who runs it, said correspondent Najmeh Bozorgmehr.

Interview: correspondent Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran

28/07/2009 by Amanda Morrow

“There is suspicion that is belongs to the Revolutionary Guard, which puts it outside of the responsibility of the judiciary,“ she said. “That is why the order had to come from the supreme leader.”

“Reports of torture came to the media and it created a lot of anger and insecurity amongst families of detainees. Opposition leaders also appealed to the clergy in Qom and urged them to stop torture, which they said is against Islamic rules,” Bozorgmehr said.

“I don’t think the regime could maintain such a detention centre anymore.”

Official numbers put the number of post-election detainees at 300, though NGOs estimate that the number could be far greater. Many of these prisoners are being held in the notorious section 209 of Evine prison, reserved for political prisoners, where Human Rights Watch reports they are tortured to extract confessions.

Iran’s parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani – a conservative ally of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad – called for all detainees to be freed.

On Monday, Iran’s judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi said that the fate of the prisoners would be decided within a week.

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