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Rafsanjani's Daughter Says His 'Mysterious' Death Unresolved

An empty seat, with a photo bearing a portrait of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is seen during a session of Iran's Assembly of Experts in Tehran, March 7, 2017

Almost two years after the allegedly mysterious death of one of the shrewdest leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran, his case has been shelved.

The Ayatollah's eldest daughter, Fatemeh Hashemi insists that her father died of "unnatural causes", yet the Islamic Republic's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) has ordered the termination of a probe into his death.

The body of 82-year-old former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s was discovered by one of his bodyguards on January 8, 2017, in a swimming pool in Koushk Garden, northern Tehran, as was officially announced at the time.

The Ayatollah used the pool once or twice a week. He swam alone that evening while the lights of the pool were said to be mysteriously turned off and the guards stayed outside, initial reports said, and one the guards discovered the body after Rafsanjani failed to come out at the usual time.

Speaking to Jamaran, a website close to the family of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Fatemeh Hashemi disclosed on Tuesday, January 1, that two months before Rafsanjani's death, two Iran-Iraq war veterans warned her that a number of individuals were after assassinating her father.

"Two months before my father's death, two gentlemen, who claimed to be war veterans, came to my office and told me that unidentified individuals intend to assassinate my father, asking me to relay their message to him," Fatemeh Hashemi told Jamaran website, without elaborating on the identity of the two individuals.

The main figures of Islamic Republic in Iran, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (L), Supreme Leader Rouhollah Khomeini (C) and Hossein Ali Montazeri, undated.
The main figures of Islamic Republic in Iran, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (L), Supreme Leader Rouhollah Khomeini (C) and Hossein Ali Montazeri, undated.

While insisting that she reported the warning to the SNSC, headed by President Hassan Rouhani, Fatemeh Hashemi is silent on the response from SNSC or her father.

Furthermore, it is not yet clear whether the meeting with the two mysterious war veterans was reported to SNSC before or after Rafsanjani's death.

Meanwhile, Fatemeh Hashemi has once again divulged that her father's urine and towels were contaminated by radioactive materials ten times higher than the permissible level of radioactivity in any person.

Earlier, in December 2017, Fatemeh's younger sister and former Tehran representative to Majlis (Islamic parliament), Faezeh Hashemi had also insisted that her father's body had contained radioactive elements “10 times more than the allowed level".

The younger daughter also disclosed that her sister, Fatemeh and her mother were tested for radiation. Her mother had three times the normal level and her sister had twice. She did not say when the tests took place, but most probably, it was after they learned about high levels of radiation in her father's body.

Members of the SNSC told the family that they did not know about the source of the radiation, however, they had concluded that it was not the reason for Rafsanjani’s death and therefore, the case had been closed, Faezeh Hashemi told pro-Rouhani daily E’temad.

The SNSC has not yet responded to the comments by Rafsanjani's daughters.

Iranians gather around a hearse carrying the coffin of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani during his funeral ceremony in the capital Tehran, 10Jan2017
Iranians gather around a hearse carrying the coffin of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani during his funeral ceremony in the capital Tehran, 10Jan2017

A month after the death in the pool, Rafsanjani's brother, Mohammad, maintained that the former President (1989-1997), speaker of Majlis (1980-1989), the chairman of the influential Expediency Discernment Council (1989-2017) and the chairman of the Assembly of Experts (2007-2011) had neither been "assassinated" nor "drowned". He died of cardiac arrest, Mohammad Hashemi asserted.

Nevertheless, a month later, he noted that although the cause of his brother's death is officially described as "cardiac arrest", but the cause of cardiac arrest had not been announced.

Referring to the mysteries that have shrouded her father's death, Fatemeh Hashemi has repeatedly asked why her father's body was taken to hospital with a 21-minute delay.

Dismissing the remarks attributed to her father's bodyguards as "contradictory' and "suspicious", Fatemeh Hashemi says, "Why there was no death certificate at the time of my father's burial? And why samples were not taken from his body to decide the exact cause of death?"

If they had asked our permission for an autopsy, Fatemeh Hashemi reiterates, we might have declined it, but taking samples from a body would have not been a big deal.

Earlier, she had pointed out that "They stormed my father's office at the Expediency Discernment Council and took away 'important materials' kept in the safe, immediately after his death."

However, once again, Fatemeh Hashemi has preferred not to elaborate on the identity of those who allegedly stormed her father's office.

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, once considered as the second strongest man in Iran for more than three decades, clashed with his longtime friend and ally, the Islamic Republic's current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, over the disputed re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, emerging as a figure that might be able to rein Khamenei's autocratic rule over the country.

In 2013, the clash between the two old comrades came to a point that Rafsanjani was disqualified from standing in presidential elections and swung his political weight behind a so-called moderate and longtime associate, mid-ranking cleric Hassan Rouhani, who won the vote against the candidates believed to be Khamenei's favorites.

Khamenei never hid his discontentment with the Rafsanjani-Rouhani axis promoting less bellicose stance toward the West.

“World of tomorrow is a world of negotiations, not the world of missiles,” Rafsanjani twitted on March 2016, explicitly dismissing Khamenei's stance toward the outside world as a "non-starter".

Responding to the derisive tweet, but without directly naming Rafsanjani, Khamenei fired back, “People say that tomorrow’s world is a world of negotiations and not a world of missiles. If they say this thoughtlessly, it shows they are thoughtless. However, if this is intentional, then this is treachery.”

At the time of his death, Rafsanjani was seen as more moderate and pragmatic man and thousands came out to show their respects during his funeral.

The clash of the two Ayatollahs ended before reaching a crescendo on January 8, 2017, when Rafsanjani's body was discovered in an unlit pool in northern Tehran.