08/13/2009, 00.00
IRAN
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Tehran denies violence on prisoners, claims they are happy

Iran’s parliamentary speaker slams Karroubi’s claims, demands he produce “evidence” of abuse. Lawmakers on a fact-finding mission into abuse allegations say prisoners are “satisfied” with the way they are treated. But the wife of an imprisoned former deputy interior minister says he was subjected to physical and psychological torture. A Mousavi representative presents the names of 69 people killed during the disturbances.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – For the speaker of Iran’s parliament (Majlis), no detainee was victim of sexual abuse in prison; indeed, “all prisoners are satisfied with their situation,” said the head of a parliamentary committee. Conversely, the wife of a former deputy interior minister said that her husband was subjected to physical and psychological torture, whilst a representative of pro-reform leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi presented the names of 69 victims of post-election disturbances. The authorities had claimed only 26 dead.

Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, a trusted supporter of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, described accusations made by Mehdi Karroubi that prison guards raped anti-government protesters, both men and women, as “sheer lies,” demanding instead the opposition leader and former presidential candidate “present evidence” to back his claims.

Government-owned Press TV cited Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of Iran's Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, who said that “all prisoners are satisfied with their situation in the Evin prison” (outside wall pictured).

It added that a Majlis fact-finding committee found that detainees' complaints were mainly related to a temporary detention centre named Kahrizak, which was shut down on Khamenei’s orders.

In fact Evin is as a special detention centre, nicknamed the ‘torture factory.’ It was here that Iranian-Canadian photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi was beaten to death after being arrested for taking pictures of the structure, which has two special wings for political prisoners.

Similarly, Fakhrossadat Mohtashamipour, wife of Mostafa Tajzadeh, a former deputy interior minister, told Rooz, an online publication by Iranian exiles, that she is seriously worried about the physical and psychological torture her husband and other political prisoners have had to endure. She said he was able to speak with the family by phone for only a few minutes since days after the election

The United Nations has revised a previous statement by Ban Ki-moon in which the secretary-general congratulated the Iranian president on his re-election.

UN spokeswoman Marie Okabe said that “[i]t is not accurate to refer to this [Ban’s message] as a congratulatory letter.”

Instead, in his message the secretary-general said that he was taking “advantage of the occasion of the inauguration to express the hope that Iran and the United Nations will continue to cooperate closely in addressing regional and global issues,” Okabe said.

Having lost Ban Ki-moon’s “congratulations”, which Iranian media had originally played up, Ahmadinejad can still console himself with those from Japan, Turkey, Qatar and Russia. (PD)

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