Authorities deny journalist was on hunger strike before death

Tue, 06/14/2011

Islamic Republic authorities gave their first response today to the death of Reza Hoda Saber, denying that the jailed journalist and political activist had been on a hunger strike during his final days.

Their statement appears in a report published by Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). It quotes an unnamed source, “the head of the Evin Prison infirmary and Hoda Saber’s doctor,” saying the jailed journalist died from a “massive heart attack.” The IRNA report adds that Hoda Saber received all necessary medical care, as would be expected, in the last hours of his life.

According to IRNA, the head of infirmary has reported that Hoda Saber was brought to the medical facility at about 5AM on Friday. He was given an electrocardiogram which showed nothing out of the ordinary. According to IRNA, the unidentified prison official says Hoda Saber was then given medication, which he said alleviated his pain, and he was returned to his cell. An hour later, says the source, he was in pain once more and was taken to hospital after a second ECG.

The report indicates that Hoda Saber’s vital signs were fine when he was sent to hospital. The unnamed official says the patient even wanted to walk into the hospital himself but was forbidden by hospital personnel, who took him in a wheelchair.

IRNA says the infirmary chief refutes reports that Hoda Saber was on a hunger strike, because all such prisoners are visited by infirmary personnel, who compile a daily record of their medical condition, even if they don’t require immediate medical care.

“There was no such file on Hoda Saber, and he has no history of a hunger strike,” Evin Prison authorities contend. They add that, according to the hospital report, Hoda Saber died from “a massive heart attack.”

Contradicting the IRNA report is the June 2 announcement of a hunger strike by Hoda Saber and his fellow Nationalist-Religious prisoner, Amir-Khosro Delirsani. They said their strike was to protest the “murder of Haleh Sahabi,” a political activist who died when her father’s funeral was overrun by security forces on June 1, triggering widespread outrage.

The Islamic Republic authorities have been accused of bringing about Hoda Saber’s death, first by his arbitrary arrest and then by failing to provide him with adequate medical care.

Today, 64 inmates at the same prison issued their own statement, declaring that Hoda Saber was beaten at the infirmary on Friday June 10.

Hoda Saber’s family has announced that it has filed a legal complaint to protest the prison’s delay in transferring him to hospital and its failure to inform the family about his death.




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