- The Washington Times - Monday, January 11, 2010

TEHRAN | A parliamentary investigation made public Sunday found the former Tehran prosecutor responsible for the deaths of at least three anti-government protesters imprisoned in the turmoil after Iran’s disputed June elections.

Saeed Mortazavi was the capital’s prosecutor responsible for Kahrizak prison at the time of the three prison deaths in July. Hundreds of protesters were detained amid massive street protests over an election the opposition claimed was fraudulent.

“The deaths of the three were the result of four days in custody suffering from beatings in a place without proper food, water or health conditions,” said Kazem Jalali, a lawmaker and spokesman for the investigation.

Mr. Jalali was reading from a report on the findings of the investigation in a parliament session broadcast live on state radio. The findings were first reported Wednesday by a conservative Web site.

Mr. Mortazavi led interrogations of dozens of reformists arrested and put on trial after the June vote, according to opposition Web sites and families of the detained activists. The report said Mr. Mortazavi claimed the three detainees had died from meningitis.

After months of denials, Iran’s hard-line judiciary acknowledged last month that the three were beaten to death by their jailers. That confirmed one of the opposition’s most devastating claims against authorities and the elite Revolutionary Guard forces, which led the crackdown on anti-government protests after the election.

One of the detainees who died in custody was the son of Abdolhossein Rouhalamini, a top aide to conservative presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei. Mr. Rouhalamini’s death in July, two weeks after he was arrested, sparked anger even among government supporters.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, ordered the immediate closure of Kahrizak in July, and Mr. Jalali said that came after reports of beatings and inhumane behavior there.

After reports of torture and rape emerged in August, authorities vowed to punish those found guilty to control the damage. Mr. Mortazavi, who now heads a government body tasked with fighting smuggling of goods, is the highest ranking official to be implicated so far. But there was no immediate word on whether he would be prosecuted.

Mr. Jalali said the investigation did not uncover any rape in prisons or abuse of protesters in other prisons. Earlier in summer, leading opposition figure Mahdi Karroubi claimed some detainees were raped in custody.

The opposition says more than 80 protesters have been killed in the postelection crackdown, but the government puts the number of confirmed dead at less than 40.

In a separate development, an Iranian semi-official news agency close to hard-liners in the government quoted Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying that a Swedish diplomat in Tehran was among hundreds detained during opposition protests Dec. 27. He said the diplomat has been released.

The prosecutor also said Dubai TV’s Syrian reporter, Reza Albasha, also has been released.

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