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Fugitive Judge's Relatives Deny His Suicide

Romania - Gholamreza Mansouri's death -- Forensic workers carry the body of Gholamreza Mansouri from a hotel downtown Bucharest, Romania, Friday, June 19, 2020.

The family of an Iranian fugitive judge found dead in Bucharest, Romania has denied that he committed suicide, insisting instead that he was murdered.

On Friday, Romanian prosecutors announced that "a fugitive Iranian judge, Gholamreza Mansouri, whose corpse was found in a Bucharest hotel in June, had committed suicide by jumping from a hotel's 5th floor."

Mansouri, 52, fled corruption charges in Iran last year, one of several judges accused during a high-profile trial.

In an interview with the Modara news site on Saturday, Mansouri's brother argued in favor of his faithful character and religious tendencies, claiming he did not commit suicide. Mansouri's brother said that in his last days, the judge had "repeatedly begged his family to go to the shrine and pray for him."

The brother, who has not been named, also asserted that the judge regularly read written supplications exclusively compiled for the Twelver-Shi'ite pilgrims visiting their holy shrines.

"The initial Romanian reports said it was suicide, but two days later they said the autopsy indicate a hasty murder combined with violence,” Mansouri's brother offered to further support his claims of Mansouri’s innocence.

Romanian prosecutors said in a statement that Mansouri was the only client in the hotel where he died. "He fell from the fifth floor through the indoor (staircase) illuminator, from a height of twenty meters (about 65 feet), hitting the ground floor to die on the spot," the statement read.

Prosecutors said Mansouri vacated his sixth-floor room and completed departure formalities, "after which he took the elevator from the ground floor up to the 5th floor, from where he jumped."

Meanwhile, Mansouri’s brother argues that "since the body was in Romania's custody, they chose the least expensive way to get away, and make it look like a suicide."

Speaking about Mansouri’s religious ways, his brother added, "He was a cleric, and faithful. Therefore, we reject that he took his own life."

Mansouri had previously announced that he intended to return to Iran, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, he remained stuck in Europe, under Romanian judicial supervision ahead of court hearings scheduled for July over Iran’s request to extradite him. Later, on June 19, his body was found.

In an interview with the Modara website, his brother also accused the Iranian ambassador to Romania of "sabotage" and obstruction.

"My brother visited the Tehran Embassy in Bucharest on the weekend and announced his readiness to return to Iran. Nevertheless, being a weekend, the ambassador did not immediately inform the authorities in Tehran," Mansouri's brother lamented, adding, "If the ambassador, willingly or unwillingly, created the grounds for the murder of the late Gholamreza Mansouri, we will demand the court of the Islamic Republic ... to prosecute him as well. “