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Family Of Political Prisoner Killed In Iran Jail Demand Prosecution Of Officials

Burial of Alireza Shir Mohammad Ali (R), a young political prisoner killed in June by common criminals.

The relatives of a young Iranian prisoner murdered behind bars insist that officials should also be brought to justice, the family's attorney says.

Political prisoner, Alireza Shir Mohammad Ali, was only 21-year-old and serving an eight-year sentence when he was stabbed more than thirty times on June 10, in a premeditated assault by two common criminals, while he had protested for being kept next to criminals charged with murder, rape, and burglary.

The main assailant Hamidreza Shoja'ei Zavareh also known as Khoroos (rooster), was on death row for murder in the infamous Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary (GTCP) when he stabbed the young political prisoner to death.

The court has condemned Shoja'ei Zavareh to 'qisas' (an eye for an eye or retribution in-kind, according to Sharia law).

The Qisas verdict against the killer can be used as an argument by authorities that they had nothing to do with the murder and they’ve handed out a harsh sentence.

The accomplice was sentenced to 25 years and paying blood money, the judiciary's spokesman, Gholam Hossein Esmaeili said on Tuesday, July 23.

However, the attorney representing Shir Mohammad Ali told the Islamic Republic's official news agency (IRNA) last Saturday that he had appealed against the verdict.

"We demanded the director-general of the prisons, the GTCP warden, and the officer in charge of the prison at the time of the crime," Mohammad Hadi Erfanian to be prosecuted, he told IRNA.

Speaking to another state-run news agency, ILNA, Erfanian cited Shir Mohammad Ali's mother as saying, the head of the judiciary should not ignore her son's spilled blood.

Prisoners facing charges related to political and intelligence issues are usually kept at Tehran's Evin prison, Erfanian told ILNA, adding, "I don't understand why he was transferred to GTCP--- as the law stipulates separation of prisoners," based on their charges, the attorney said.

"The GTCP warden, the chief guard at the time of the crime, and other officials of the detention center must be held accountable," ILNA quoted Erfanian as saying.

Meanwhile, local news outlets also cited outspoken lawmaker Ali Motahari as saying, "Authorities should not keep a political prisoner in a ward where thieves, murderers, and smugglers are kept, and prevent such accidents."

Killing of Shir Mohammad Ali behind bars triggered a wave of protests on social media, accusing the country's judiciary of negligence.

Based on Article 69 of the State Prisons Organization's regulations, authorities are required to divide prisoners according to the nature of their convictions.

Shir Mohammad Ali was arrested after massive anti-regime protests last summer. Subsequently, he was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of "blasphemy, insulting the former and current supreme leaders and propaganda against the regime."

While the initial court had sentenced Shir Mohammad Ali to eight years' discretionary prison sentence, the court of appeals was scheduled to review his case on July 9.

He protested conditions at GTCP and the lack of safety inside the prison. The prison is located 32 kilometers (approximately 20 miles) south of the capital.

GTCP was initially built as a concentration camp for drug-related convicts. However, intelligence agents often punish political prisoners and prisoners of conscience by exiling them there.

There have been numerous reports about inhumane living conditions at the prison, Iran Human Rights Monitor (IHRM) reported on June 11.