Excerpts of December 3, 2019 Press Conference of Judiciary Spokesman Gholamhossein Esma’ili
ABC Note: the following are excerpts of a December 3, 2019 press conference given by Iranian judiciary spokesperson Gholamhossein Esma’ili, the full audio file of which is available on IRNA’s website: www.irna.ir/news/83579085/.
Ms. Yarahmadi, Ettela’at newspaper: Hello sir. Yesterday in the meeting, Mr. Rai’si [head of the Iranian judiciary] talked about compensating those who have suffered financial loss and loss of life in the course of the recent events. Detractor and enemy networks constantly talk about and put the number of the dead between 300 and 400. I would like to know, do you have any statistics for the number of dead and wounded?
Esma’ili: First of all, I want to announce very clearly that the numbers and figures declared by enemy groups are pure lies, and the statistics are very different from what they claim, and are much lower than the numbers they claim. What they do is announce a number, and then provide a series of names, and as you saw, there is a huge gap between the figure they claim and the number of names they announce. That the number they claim is pure fiction and they’re just making up statistics is one thing, but they’re even making up the names. In other words, we have multiple people who are alive from among the names they have announced; we interviewed them, and their exact particulars are there. They have even mentioned people who have been killed, or have died under normal circumstances, and have nothing to do with the events.
You saw one example of an interview: The family of Nikta Esfandani. They made such a huge deal about a 14-year-old girl who was shot dead in the riots. This was a lady who had nothing to do with these events. Both the Medical Examiner’s Office and the family confirm that she died due to food poisoning. But what they did was they found someone at some hospital and told them “give us the name of anyone who dies here”. And so someone told them “today a young girl by the name of Nikta Esfandani died in our hospital”, and they put her name among those killed in the recent riots.
There are a lot of people like that. We have a large number of names, some that are fictitious names and others that are alive and that we interviewed; and there are others … Well, this was just an example. This is an old trick. They did the same thing in the 2009 sedition; they came up with made-up casualties and made up-statistics. They talked of someone by the name of Sa’ideh Puraghai and they said she was from a martyr’s family. They held a wake for her in Tehran and went to the wake, they held a prayer vigil for her. Then we brought this lady and interviewed her. She said “I’m alive” and the people who had participated in the wake as her family were not Sa’ideh Puraghai’s family at all.
These are old tricks and devices that the enemies of the Regime and the Revolution use. I want to declare that a considerable number of those who lost their lives were killed by these same hoodlums, not to mention that they martyred our police and security officers. You saw that; you were there, you heard them, these hoodlums and evildoers were armed; they had weapons. You saw the interviews of some of the people who had been shot and are at the hospital; they confirm that they weren’t shot by officers, that they were in the crowd or were just passersby, and were shot and injured by weapons that have nothing to do with officially issued weapons of the armed forces. You cannot interview the dead. You have the one family of Nikta Esfandani who confirms [her death from food poisoning], but there are also many people who were shot and are currently at the hospital and confirm that they were shot by hoodlums and evildoers. They have made up statistics of people they have killed themselves. We, the Judiciary Branch, claim [that the killings were done by] hoodlums and hooligans; we claim [that they were done by] the counter-revolutionaries; we claim that those who are abroad have killed many of these people and we say to them “you killed them and now you want to ascribe responsibility to our Regime, to our Revolution and to our military and police officers?”
I want to emphasize and tell our society, our conscious and revolutionary populace, and our media, not to be duped by these foreign elements’ propaganda and made-up statistics and fake dead people.
Ms. Amer Kashi, Payam-e Zaman newspaper: Hello, Mr. Esma’ili, may God give you strength. My question was about the recent riots to which you alluded in the beginning of your talk. A part of my question remains: Some social network websites have named certain cities, which shall remain nameless, as places where there were the highest numbers of protesters. I would like to know whether the Judiciary Branch has any reliable statistics in that regard, about these cities, and also, is there any truth to the assertion that protests are continuing in certain cities or not?
Esma’ili: That protests are continuing in certain cities, no, that’s incorrect. Praise be to Allah. The Supreme Leader’s guidance and the conscious presence of our people was like water over the fire of sedition, and all our cities are now in a state of calm and order; we have not had any protest activities in any of our cities in the past week and in recent days. This claim does not correspond with reality.
Yes, some cities were involved during the riots, but there was nothing going on in many of our cities. We had no incidents or events in many provinces. We witnessed some riots in a number of cities. And the extent of sabotage and destruction was different in different cities. Because of the security aspect of the matter, we stressed that the National Security Council examine all the aspects, and the National Security Council’s activities are broader than our judicial actions. Our dear [colleagues at the National Security Council] have certainly come to the necessary conclusions and will announce them at the appropriate time.
Regarding damage to our citizens, and damage to government locales, we are first claiming sabotage, whether by those who were present at the scene or those who supported them. They have to be held accountable for the damage they’ve caused. Of course, since many of these people may not be identified or we may not be able to attribute these damages to them, we stressed that other organs provide the necessary assistance in providing compensation, especially the honorable government. Some sectors are insured and so insurance [companies] will help. In addition, we asked the government to allot certain [funding and] assistance within the framework of rules and regulations in order to compensate our citizens for the damages they incurred. It goes without saying that if we are able to collect any damages from the rioters, we will reimburse the government from the funds we obtain from these rioters if damages have already been paid by the government.