Threat of charges against Iranian presidential candidate part of cover up
Amnesty International has called on the Iranian authorities to dismiss legal action against former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi over allegations that protesters were raped and tortured by security forces following the disputed June elections. The Tehran Prosecutor said last week that a case had been lodged at a clerical court against Mehdi Karroubi following a recommendation by an official investigation. “The authorities must immediately stop entertaining the delusion that by raising human rights concerns Mehdi Karroubi has broken the law,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. “Instead they should turn over all reports of allegations of abuse and killings of protesters and detainees, including those they have confiscated, to a truly independent and impartial investigative body”. The official investigation, which included the former Minister of Intelligence who was in post at the time of the presidential vote, was formed after the election to investigate allegations of abuse. It concluded that the evidence presented to them by Mehdi Karroubi was forged and intended to “disturb public opinion and undermine the credibility of the system”. Cases involving clerics in Iran are heard before the Special Court for the Clergy, a highly secretive body which reports directly to the Supreme Leader and is independent of the judiciary, Only clerics appointed by the court may serve as defence lawyers and, like in other courts in Iran, judges can impose the death penalty. The Iranian authorities have acknowledged violations by security forces during the unrest after the election. But both the official investigation and another conducted by the Iranian parliament are likely to be used to shield security officials from prosecutions. “The threat of charges against Mehdi Karroubi is further evidence of the determination of the authorities to cover up the truth about the conduct of the security forces and that Iranians daring to speak out for their rights will face an unremitting crackdown,” said.Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui On 7 September 2009, Iran’s security forces closed the office and confiscated testimonies held by an independent body established by Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi, another presidential candidate, which had collected accounts of allegations of abuse in the course of the demonstrations following the 12 June 2009 presidential election. Human rights experts from the United Nations, specialising in extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and on torture have been denied access to Iran in spite of repeated requests by these bodies to enter the country. “Instead of conducting sham investigations in response to the ghastly reports of rape of detainees and other abuses and now targeting Mehdi Karroubi and others who speak out, the Iranian authorities must launch a proper investigation which meets international standards” Hassiba Hadhj Sahraoui added. “They should also allow international scrutiny by immediately letting in the country all relevant UN human rights experts”. In the days following the 13 June 2009 announcement that incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won the presidential election, mass demonstrations were swiftly repressed with excessive force, in which dozens of protestors were killed, and hundreds more injured. Some died later of their injuries. At least 4,000 people were detained across the country. Most have since been released, but up to several hundred are believed to remain in detention, and arrests are continuing.