The Islamic Republic of Iran's Supreme Court has reportedly acquitted a former member of parliament, Salman Khodadadi, of rape but sentenced him to 99 lashes, and banned him for two years from serving in public positions, for having an "illegitimate affair."
Daily Etemad reported on July 30, that the report has not yet been officially confirmed or denied. However, it has been republished in many media outlets and even in a news channel attributed to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Etemad noted one can conclude that the Supreme Court has indeed upheld the verdict.
Salman Khodadadi, 58, has served five four-year terms in Majles (Iranian parliament). All through his career, he has been a controversial figure due to multiple sexual-abuse allegations.
He was once briefly detained, charged with raping two women, but later released on bail.
Khodadadi is a former IRGC commander and also served in the Intelligence Ministry.
The case against him concerns 28-year-old Zahra Navidpour, who had visited Khodadadi's office searching for a job.
Navidpour had filed a lawsuit against Khodadadi, accusing him of "rape and sexual harassment" and, by posting audio files online, trying to prove that the MP had abused her.
Zahra Navidpour had asserted that she gave evidence to the IRGC's Intelligence Organization, the Intelligence Ministry, and the Guardian Council but received no response.
Zahra Navidpour was found dead on January 6, 2019, in her mother's house in Khodadadi's constituency, Malekan, a small town in Iran's East Azerbaijan province.
Many believe it was a murder to silence the young woman while local authorities said it was a suicide.
Before her death, Navidpour had insisted that she was repeatedly threatened by Khodadadi's nephew, Massoud Hashempour, and Kamal Khoshpayman. The two are the head of the municipality's legal affairs office, and members of the IRGC's fearsome Intelligence Organization in the city of Tabriz, respectively.
Roughly midway in his more than twenty-year career as a lawmaker, Khodadadi was summoned by a Tehran court and arrested on charges of "moral corruption" and illegal sexual relations but later released.
In Iran, any intimate contact with a member of the opposite sex outside marriage is punishable by law.
Zahra Navidpour's complaint was finally sent to Branch 5 of the Tehran Criminal Court, but as she was summoned for further explanations, her death was announced on January 6, 2019, in Tabriz.
Preliminary investigations revealed that she had "apparently" committed suicide. However, Navidpour had earlier noted that her life was in danger.
In a video she gave to Gunaz TV to broadcast, Navidpour asked international organizations to help ensure her safety. Gunaz TV is a TV channel transmitted in the Azerbaijani language, and its headquarters are in the U.S. city of Chicago.
Khodadadi, who presents himself as an "independent" politician, was appointed as advisor to the Islamic Republic's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif after Hassan Rouhani won his first presidential term in 2013.