Iran Election: Political Prisoners Dying Under Candidate Raisi’s Watch

Another political prisoner has died in state custody two weeks before Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi, who is ultimately responsible for the care of prisoners, runs for president.

“The reported death of Sassan Niknafs in the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary reveals the mounting human toll of the Iranian judiciary’s policy of imprisoning individuals for criticizing the government,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

“These individuals shouldn’t be in prison in the first place yet they’re dying in state custody while Raisi focuses on his latest power grab,” he said.

Niknafs’ death was reported just four months after another political prisoner, Behnam Mahjoubi, died in state custody after Iran’s State Medical Examiner had concluded he could not withstand incarceration.

Since Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appointed Raisi to judiciary chief in March 2019, at least three political prisoners—Niknafs, Alireza Shirmohammadali, and Mahjoubi—have died in state custody, though this number only includes reported deaths and does not include the significantly higher numbers of death by execution or deaths of non-political prisoners.

Niknafs—who was imprisoned despite displaying multiple physical and mental health issues—reportedly died in Firouzabadi Hospital on June 5 after displaying “declining consciousness” while being seen by prison clinicians, according to a statement by the Tehran Prisons Organization that was published by the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) on June 7.

“The death of Sassan Niknafs could be deliberate murder due to the authorities’ lack of attention to his inability to endure imprisonment,” tweeted Iranian human rights lawyer Saeid Dehghan on June 7.

“Based on Article 290 of the Islamic Penal Code, it would be considered intentional murder if a person deliberately commits an act that leads to a crime that was unintentional but committed with the knowledge that the action could result in a crime,” Dehghan wrote.

According to Article 502 of Iran’s Code of Criminal Procedure, if imprisonment worsens the health of a prisoner suffering from physical or mental illness, the judge could suspend punishment after consulting with the medical examiner until the prisoner recovers.

Read the complete article at: Iran Human Rights

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