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Romanian Court Postpones Extradition Of Wanted Prosecutor To Iran

Gholamreza Mansouri, a prosecutor known for ordering the mass arrest of journalists in 2013, and took 500,000 in bribes was arrested in Romania.
Gholamreza Mansouri, a prosecutor known for ordering the mass arrest of journalists in 2013, and took 500,000 in bribes was arrested in Romania.

A Romanian court on June 12 postponed the extradition of Gholamreza Mansouri, a judge and former prosecutor arrested in Bucharest and wanted by Iran for corruption.

A complaint against him has also been lodged in Germany by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for human rights violations including mass arrest of journalists in 2013.

Mansouri is currently held at a safe location in Romania, a source told RFE/RL. Romanian authorities have asked Tehran to present a formal extradition request with documents related to the case.

Romanian media have reported that Mansouri has protested his arrest by the local police and claimed that he is a permanent resident of Turkey where he owns a residential house.

Mansouri's name came up as one of the recipients of bribes in the trial of Akbar Tabari, a former Judiciary deputy. The former judge allegedly received 500,000 euros in bribes from Tabari.

According to Romanian media reports, a judge has decided that Mansouri will not be taken to prison until July 10 if certain conditions are complied with but he will not be allowed to leave the country, our correspondent said from Bucharest.

The judge's decision requires the Metropolitan Police of Bucharest to keep Mansouri under surveillance and he must report to a police station from time to time. The Romanian Prosecutor's Office could within 24 hours appeal the judge’s decision allowing Mansouri to stay out of jail for the time being.

According to the RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest, given the possibility of a death sentence and the conditions of Iranian prisons, the Romanian Office for Immigration will be required to present the human rights situation to the court to get permission for the extradition.

Informed sources in Romania have said that Mansouri dossier's in court has been marked with "passive extradition" which means that he can’t be extradited if he is likely to request asylum for fear of being executed in the country where he will be extradited.

Meanwhile, on Saturday Iran's Judiciary Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Esmaili said Mansouri had been arrested by the Interpol but his extradition was not possible due to coronavirus restrictions. He would be returned to Iran and put on trial for corruption, he claimed. He also told a local news network that Iran had requested the arrest through the Interpol.

In a video published on social media on Friday, a man who introduced himself as Mansouri's nephew, Saeed Mansouri, said his uncle went to Romania on June 10 where he presented himself to the Iranian embassy in Bucharest.

But our correspondent says nobody has confirmed yet if the Interpol or the Iranian embassy in Bucharest were involved in his arrest. If not, then it is not clear why the Romanian police arrested him if no request was made.

According to the nephew, Mansouri was taken to hospital by embassy staff in the embassy car after feeling badly ill. However, he was arrested at the hospital by the Romanian police and "unfortunately" they handed him over to the Interpol, he said. If this version of events is true, it is possible that the embassy tipped off the police about Mansouri's whereabouts.

Earlier this week many Iranian activists claimed that Manouri was in Germany. The German Foreign Ministry said it had not issued a visa for Mansouri and was not informed of his whereabouts. Mansouri could have traveled to Germany on a Schengen visa. Today the Judiciary spokesman, however, said Mansouri was arrested in Romania.

Mansouri is a highly influential prosecutor and judge notoriously famous for prosecuting journalists and putting them behind bars. In one instance in 2013, he ordered the simultaneous arrest of 20 journalists in one day. Iranian journalists and human rights activists want him to be put on trial in Germany or another European country for his grave human rights violations including the arrest and torture of journalists.

Reporters without Borders (RSF) has supported the call of Iranian activists and filed a complaint with Germany's Federal Public Prosecutor against Mansouri for the arrest and torture of at least 20 journalists in 2013.

In a video published on social media on June 9, the Mansouri claimed that he was abroad for treatment of a serious medical condition and could not return due to the restrictions introduced after the breakout of coronavirus. He did not reveal where he was but said he would go to an Iranian embassy to arrange for his return to defend himself against the corruption charges.

Reporting by Adelina Radulescu of RFE/RL Romanian Service in Bucharest
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    Maryam Sinaiee

    Maryam Sinaiee is a British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National, who contributes to Radio Farda.