Middle East

Iran lawmakers seek probe into alleged jail abuse

Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh hugs get son Nima at her home in Tehran on September 18, 2013, after being freed after three years in prison. AFP PHOTO/BEHROUZ MEHRI

TEHRAN, Iran: Several Iranian lawmakers on Tuesday demanded a probe into alleged beatings of political prisoners held at Tehran's Evin prison, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Families of the inmates met with the lawmakers Sunday, seeking clarification on what happened to their kin, according to the report.

The meetings came after family members of a group of political prisoners being held in ward 350 of the notorious facility gathered in front of the parliament to voice their concerns that some inmates were injured during a prison inspection last Thursday, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported earlier this week.

ISNA reported that family members learned of the situation during phone calls with loved ones being held at the facility. They told the news agency that some prisoners were sent to solitary confinement after the incident.

Moderate lawmaker Ali Motahari appeared among the families and promised to follow the case, saying "the families asked us for help and we do so as much as we can," according to the ISNA report.

Motahari is one of the lawmakers who called on the justice minister to investigate the case Tuesday.

Details of what happened during the prison inspection are in dispute., an opposition Farsi website based outside Iran, has reported that the prisoners were beaten during a clash following a snap inspection by prison authorities.

Prison officials have denied any beatings took place, saying there was no clash during the monthly inspection. They say a majority of family members have already met with the inmates, and that the rest will be allowed to meet soon.

Hard-line lawmakers Mohammad Hasan Asafari and Ismail Kowsari have accused some of the prisoners of illegally possessing cell phones and laptops used to communicate with contacts abroad, the hard-line Javan newspaper and the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported Tuesday.

Asafari said that some 30 inmates in two rooms within the prison refused to leave to give inspectors access to their cells. The only injury was to a prisoner who slightly hurt his hand after he broke a window.

Iran convicted and sentenced hundreds of activists and political figures to prison terms in the wake of protests following the 2009 re-election of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which the opposition called fraudulent. Many have been pardoned and released over the past years, though several others remain behind bars.





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