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Forced Prisoner Confessions Haunt Islamic Republic As Questions, Trial Loom

Screen shots from a program by Iran's state television showing forced confessions of Maziar Ebrahimi in August 2012.
Screen shots from a program by Iran's state television showing forced confessions of Maziar Ebrahimi in August 2012.

Reformist lawmaker Mahmoud Sadeqi has tabled a motion at the Iranian Parliament (Majles) on Saturday August 17 to summon Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi to answer questions about forced confession in Iran's prisons.

The motion follows the airing of an interview with a former inmate who had confessed under torture in an Iranian prison to crimes he says he never committed.

In the meantime, Mehrangiz Kar, a prominent Iranian lawyer living in exile in the United States has filed a complaint against the Iranian government for "imprisoning, torturing, taking hostage and extra-judicial murder" of her husband Siamak Pourzand, a victim of forced confession in Iranian prisons.

Sadeqi wants the Intelligence Minister to explain about forcing inmates to "confess" that they have assassinated four individuals linked to Iran's nuclear program between 2009 and 2011, three of whom were killed and one escaped death with minor injuries. He also wants the Ministry to explain how the case related to assassinations has progressed.

One of the victims, Maziar Ebrahimi recently told the BBC that Iranian Intelligence Ministry Agents have tortured him and 11 others to confess on TV that they had assassinated a nuclear scientist in collaboration with Israeli secret agents.

Ebrahimi who is now living in Germany, said he and other inmates were released from jail after two years when another government body found out during an investigation that the case against them was fabricated by the Intelligence Ministry.

He also charged that Intelligence Ministry agents got $50,000 from his family only to tell them his whereabouts while he was in jail.

The Intelligence Minister had promised earlier to explain the case, but this has not been done yet. In 2012, Iran's prosecutor said 18 assassins who had killed Iran's nuclear scientists were being tried on the charges of cooperation with U.S. and Israeli agents.

Iranian rights activist and lawyer Mehrangiz Kar and her husband Siamak Pourzand, Undated.
Iranian rights activist and lawyer Mehrangiz Kar and her husband Siamak Pourzand, Undated.

Meanwhile, in another development related to force confessions and fabricated charges in Iran's security prisons, Mehrangiz Kar filed a complaints at a federal court in the United States against the Iranian government, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) accusing them to be responsible for the torture and eventual death of her husband Siamak Pourzand, a well-known journalist.

In a statement released on August 15, the law firm that represents Ms. Kar said the case involves imprisonment, torturing, hostage taking and extra-judicial murder of her husband by Iranian government agents.

Siamak Pourzand was sentenced to 11 years in prison in March 2002 on charges of "espionage and acting against national security, and getting money from foreigners to mislead the reformist press." Pourzand's trial was described by Human Rights Watch at the time as a "mockery of justice."

Even after his release from jail he was put under house arrest and was systematically harassed by Intelligence Ministry agents until the 80 year old man finally ended his life by jumping out of his 6th floor apartment in Tehran.

Iran's state TV broadcast Pourzand's forced confessions while he was still in prison. Later, he was taken to a hospital after a heart attack, and was then taken to his home where he was under house arrest where he lived in "total seclusion" according to his family to the end of his life and was never allowed even to meet with his children.

His wife, Mehrangiz Kar in her complaint has charged the Islamic Republic of Iran with the murder of her husband.

An Amnesty International report on May 6, 2011 observed that "Frail, infirm and unable to bear further indignity, without even the solace of his family around him, Siamak Pourzand let himself fall from a sixth story balcony. In truth, he was killed by the repeated human rights violations he endured, which lead to chronic ill health, at the hands of a judicial system in which human dignity had been lost."