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Fruit Vendor’s Death, Denied By Officials, Sparks Protest

Vendors in the city of Qom gathering in front of governor's office in protest to death of a vendor, on Sunday August 13, 2017.
Vendors in the city of Qom gathering in front of governor's office in protest to death of a vendor, on Sunday August 13, 2017.

Following the death of a street vendor on August 12 in the Iranian city of Qom, five suspects have been summoned to court, the city’s prosecutor announced.

Meanwhile, according to several local media sources, Qom’s produce vendors have blocked roads in protest of their colleague’s death.

“Based on inspections, investigation, witness testimonies, and collected evidence, street vendor Mozaffar Abbasi has not been murdered,” Iran Students News Agency, ISNA, quoted Qom’s prosecutor, Mehdi Kahe, as saying.

Earlier, it was reported that the vendor was killed during a physical altercation with a City Hall agent on Shahed Street.

The persons summoned to court are all Qom City Hall staff.

Meanwhile, the director of Qom’s Legal Medical department, Hameed Seddiqi Akha, said, “Primary examinations show there are no signs of bruises on the salesman’s body that indicate a physical engagement or attack.”

Furthermore, Akha asserted, “It seems that the vendor died of a heart attack.”

However, the director insisted that the case needs more investigation and the final verdict will be declared after taking samples and thoroughly testing them.

Nevertheless, vendors in Qom were so angry and unsatisfied with official statements about their colleague’s death that, on the night of August 12, they blocked the exits to the produce market, which caused a long traffic jam.

The semi-official Mehr News Agency, MNA, also reported that people present at the scene of the incident assembled on Shahed Street for hours, protesting the death of the fruit vendor.

A widely spread video clip on social media shows angry people chanting, “Death to the municipality.”

The details of the incident are highly contradictory. City Hall insists that there was no physical altercation between its staff and the fruit vendor.

“City Hall staff were trying to clear the way but the fruit vendor resisted and would not move his pickup truck. However, later, he committed himself in writing to never again violate the law by blocking public roads,” the director of City Hall’s Public Relations office, Hamid Reza Abedi, said.

Moreover, Abedi reiterated that the fruit vendor died on his way home, not far from the scene of the incident.

“There are taped videos available that proves there had been no physical engagement between the vendor and the municipality staff,” Abedi assured.

Nevertheless, the brother of the victim, Mozaffar Abbasi, says his brother was pushed by one of the City Hall agents so hard that he fell down and hit his head on the sidewalk.

“My brother passed out on his way home and died because of the head injury,” Abbasi said.

Clashes and physical altercations between City Hall agents and street vendors have repeatedly made news across Iran. Many of the clashes have led to the death of vendors.