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Iran prosecutor reportedly suspended over detainee deaths

Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi has been named by multiple Iranian news sources as one of three top judicial officials who were suspended in connection with the torture deaths of three detained protesters, multiple Iranian media outlets reported [AFP report] Monday. The suspensions were announced last week [JURIST report], but the names of the officials had been withheld. According to the media reports, the other two officials are judges whose identities are still unknown. The suspension will strip Mortazavi of his judicial immunity and clear the way for his prosecution. An Iranian parliamentary inquiry had previously found that Mortazavi was responsible for the deaths [JURIST report] of Mohammad Kamrani, Amir Javadi-far and Mohsen Ruholamini, who were tortured and beaten to death at the Kahrizak detention center after being arrested during anti-government protests that followed last year's disputed presidential election [JURIST news archive].

In June, an Iranian military court sentenced two men to death [JURIST report] by hanging for the killings. Nine others were sentenced to prison terms, and one suspect was acquitted. The defendants, whose trial began [JURIST report] in March, included 11 policemen and one civilian. Observers have accused [CNN report] the Iranian government of conducting the trial as a mere political move. The Iranian government was sharply criticized by both pro-democracy leaders and government supporters for the death of the protesters. Authorities initially claimed that the three men had died from meningitis, holding that the torture accusations were the propaganda of the opposition party. This viewpoint began to shift in August when government officials spoke out [JURIST report] against the abuse of protesters detained in Iranian prisons, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei [official website] ordered the closure of Kahrizak prison as a result.

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