Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Abdolreza Soudbakhsh

About

Age: 61
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: September 21, 2010
Location of Killing: Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial Shooting
Charges: Unspecified offense

About this Case

He was a specialist who had examined the Kahrizak and Evin prisoners that had been subjected to sexual assault, and had specific information about their cases. 

News of Dr. Abdolreza Soudbakhsh’s death was published by Fars News Agency and Farhikhtegan newspaper on September 22, 2010. Additional information about this case was obtained through the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center’s interview with his son, Mr. Damoon Soudbakhsh, and the Center’s research (October 7, 2017), the indictment against the defendants in the Kahrizak case (December 16, 2009), Human Rights Activists’ report entitled “Behind the Scenes of the Plan Known as ‘Increasing Social Safety – Kahrizak’”, (September 1, 2007), and reports published on the Rooz Online website (August 24 and 28, 2011), in The Guardian (August 25, 2011), Vatan-e Emrooz newspaper (October 26, 2010), the Government’s News Website (September 22, 2010), Jaras website (September 27, 2010), and ILNA News Agency (October 5, 2010).

Dr. Abdolreza Soudbakhsh, child of Mohammad Reza, born in Bandar Anzali, was 61 years old, married, and had four children (three sons and a daughter). He spent his childhood and school years in Bandar Anzali. He obtained his high school diploma in 1967 and was accepted that same year at [the city of] Mashhad’s Ferdosi University in the medical program. In order to fulfill the requirement of [Service in Deprived Regions] Plan, he went to the city of Kermanshah and got married there. He took up residence in Kermanshah and lived there during the Iran-Iraq war.

While studying for his specialization in infectious diseases, Dr. Soudbakhsh was a professor at Amir al-Mo’menin Hospital in [Tehran’s] Javadieh neighborhood. In addition to his other duties,* he was the head of the infectious diseases department and an infectious diseases specialist at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Hospital, [appeared as] an expert [witness in court] in [cases involving] the Medical Examiner’s Office, and was an expert for the country’s Physicians’ Order; that was why he had examined the victims of the events at the Kahrizak [Detention Center]. He also had a private office.

According to his son, Dr. Soudbakhsh was a hard-working physician who loved his job. He usually worked from 7 o’clock in the morning until 11 o’clock at night.  He tried to help others as much as he possibly could, including people he did not know. He always persevered and tried to do his job as best he could, and would always take the path he considered to be the right one. (Boroumand Center interview). According to one of his students, Dr. Soudbakhsh was a down to earth, kind, and honest man. He spoke simply and clearly, and had warm relations with his students and was always glad to lend a helping hand in solving their academic problems. (Fars News Agency, September 22, 2010). Dr. Soudbakhsh never talked about work at home and always separated his personal life from his professional life; nevertheless, he was always very worried about his patients. For instance, if he had a very sick patient, or realized that a patient’s treatment had not been done properly and had not benefited him/her, he would be upset and would make every effort to help and correct the situation. Dr. Soudbakhsh usually did not talk about his professional issues at home; however, in the days leading up to the event, he had talked to his family about certain unusual cases. (Boroumand Center interview).

Dr. Soudbakhsh’s case is related to the Kahrizak incident. Based on available information, Dr. Soudbakhsh had knowledge of the medical files of all those who had died at the Kahrizak Detention center. He was a specialist who had examined the Kahrizak and Evin prisoners that had been subjected to sexual assault, and had specific information about their cases. (Jaras, October 27, 2010).

Kahrizak Detention center

Kahrizak Detention Center or Kahrizak Camp was a place built in the year 2000 following the purge of Khak Sefid neighborhood in eastern Tehran of drug dealers and addicts, and used to hold those arrestees. Prior to 2009, this Camp was used to hold and intimidate people arrested in Social Safety Plans who were labelled “hoodlums and miscreants”, and not much information was available about their treatment there. Following the 2009 protests** and the death of three protestors at Kahrizak Detention Center (including the son of a high-ranking government official’s adviser), Tehran Province Judiciary’s Council on the Supervision and Inspection of Citizens’ Rights issued a report addressing the deaths. Subsequently, in accordance with a decree issued by the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran and upon the Head of the Judiciary First Deputy’s order, the Kahrizak Detention Center was shut down and a case was opened in Tehran Military Prosecutor’s Office concerning crimes committed by Kahrizak Detention Center officials and guards, and sent to the Investigating Judge’s Office, Branch One.

According to the Tehran Military Prosecutor’s indictment against the defendants in the Kahrizak case, “the Kahrizak Detention Center was established 15 kilometers from the Kahrizak District in Southern Tehran in order to hold hoodlums and miscreants, and was directly administered by the Greater Tehran Police Force Commander’s Supervision Division; the Prisons’ Organization had no supervision on said detention center… Said detention center had 6 wards and 2 quarantines. The quarantine where the July 9, 2009 detainees were kept was about 65 square meters and had no proper lighting or ventilation. In the process of being admitted to Kahrizak Prison, all detainees were ordered by Duty Officers to strip in front of the others and stay naked, at times for 45 minutes, according to claims by the plaintiffs; their underwear would then be thrown away and their clothes would be put on them inside out. The reason given by the officials for such actions was stated to have been to stave off insects such as lice from laying eggs.

All those arrested on July 9, 2009, (123 people) were kept in a quarantine that had an area of at most 65 square meters; the officials then brought in 37 detainees that were already being kept at Kahrizak as hoodlums and thugs into their midst. Given the summer weather, it was extremely hot and unbearable inside the quarantine. Other arrestees of the recent incidents had also been divided into 4 groups of several individuals, and were kept in special cages in very small spaces reserved for persons who had been arrested under the label of “hoodlums and miscreants”. There was not even enough room to sit in the aforementioned quarantine, and most detainees spent the night standing up. There were only 2 bathrooms in the quarantine, one of which was out of order and the other one did not have a door; as a result, the detainees had to stand in line for a long time in order to use the bathroom, barefoot, and without any type of hygiene being observed. Further, the detention center did not have a shower and the detainees could not, therefore, take one. The aforementioned quarantine had one single faucet that lacked clean water. The smoke from the gasoil burning in the utility room penetrated the quarantine and polluted the air in the small 65-square-meter room. In many instances, duty officers and ward managers insulted and severely beat the detainees with PVC pipes at the time of their check-in and during detention… Beating and injuring detainees had become a routine and normal occurrence in that detention center prior to the elections, and the lack of accountability on the part of the relevant authorities had caused the officials and the guards at the detention center to continue their conduct with impunity.” (Indictment against the Kahrizak case defendants available at the Boroumand Center, December 16, 2009).

In an interview with the Boroumand Center, a Kahrizak prisoner described the conduct of the detention center’s officials: “We were not allowed to use the bathroom. We all passed out several times. It was very hot. We were extremely thirsty. That was a major issue… The detainees would request water but we would only get one or two glasses of water a day. We were given one slice of bread and less than a quarter of a potato per day… Everyone had either a wound or a fracture of a bone somewhere on their bodies. The environment was so dirty and hot that every wound would immediately get infected. Everyone had an infection. They hung me up from my feet once… but I saw at both Kahrizak and Evin Prison that they raped and sodomized people using soda bottles. Three or four of our friends had been tortured using a soda bottle…” (Sa’eed’s interview with the Boroumand Center, December 12, 2009).

Background

Based on available information, following the publication of the news regarding mistreatment of detainees in prisons subsequent to the 2009 elections and the outbreak of infectious diseases among them, Dr. Soudbakhsh and a team of experts visited Kahrizak Detention Center and Rajaishahr Prison, and prepared a report on the rape of detainees. Based on lab analyses and examination of detainees who had developed infections of their sexual organs, Dr. Soudbakhsh had expressly stated that the prisoners had been infected due to rape, but he had been asked to declare the cause of the infections as “injection or meningitis”, and as the Medical Examiner expert, declare the cause of death of those who had perished at Kahrizak as “meningitis”. (Rooz Online, August 28, 2011).

An Account of the Events and Dr. Soudbakhsh’s Death

Dr. Soudbakhsh was supposed to go to the United States the day after the incident to visit his son for 10 days. His son recounted: “The last time I talked to my father a few days before he was supposed to come for a visit, I asked him to stay a few more days or a month for Halloween but he said ‘the situation is such that they’re looking for an excuse [to cause trouble for me] and I can’t stay even a single day longer.’ Back then, it wasn’t like today where you have a multitude of communication services and apps; we usually communicated on the phone, and it was mostly tapped. I told him I was following what was going on and I knew about it. He said ‘no, you don’t!’ And he repeated that phrase a few times ‘no, you don’t.’ To me, that meant that he knew things that I, as a person who was up on the news, did not know. I was really hoping that we would be able to talk a lot more once my father came to me.” (Boroumand Center interview).

Based on available information, during his last days, Dr. Soudbakhsh felt that his life was in danger because of increasing pressure by the security forces. He was supposed to travel to the U.S. a few hours after the incident. (Jaras, September 27, 2010).

On Tuesday, September 21, 2010, around 9 PM, Dr. Abdolreza Soudbakhsh left his office on Keshavarz Boulevard across from Laleh Hospital in Tehran, and was getting into his car, when, according to eyewitnesses, two motorcycles and a taxicab that were keeping watch at the location, blocked his way and the individuals on the motorcycles shot and killed him. (Boroumand Center interview).

According to eyewitnesses, Dr. Soudbakhsh was getting into his car, and before opening the door, a taxicab stood parallel to his car in such a way as to block his escape route. In the meantime, two motorcycles with four riders, opened fire on him, two from the front of the car and two from the back. The shots fired form the motorcycle in front of the car hit the door of Dr. Soudbakhsh’s Peugeot Pars automobile, but the shots fired from the motorcycle behind the car hit him directly. (Boroumand Center interview) (Rooz online, August 28, 2011)

Two motorcycles with four riders, opened fire on him, two from the front of the car and two from the back

After Ramin Purandarjani, Dr. Soudbakhsh was the second doctor connected to the Kahrizak events that was killed within a year of the events there.

Dr. Soudbakhsh’s body was turned over to his family on September 25, 2010, and was buried in their presence under heavy security measures.

Actions Taken by the Officials and Their Reaction to Dr. Soudbakhsh’s Murder

Official statements regarding Dr. Soudbakhsh’s case were conflicting. It was not clear which authority was examining the case, nor did the officials provide any information to the family regarding the progress on investigations.

The day after Dr. Soudbakhsh’s murder, the Police Force stated in its preliminary report that the assassination had been planned in advance and added: “Law enforcement officials’ preliminary assessment indicates that “personal enmity” was the cause of the murder.” (Fars News Agency, September 22, 2018). On the other hand, however, security officials pressured Dr. Soudbakhsh’s family not to give interviews or information to the media about his assassination. Information Ministry agents came to their home and threatened that they would bury his body without them and inform them of the location of the gravesite afterwards if they gave interviews. (Rooz Online, August 28, 2011).

Based on available information, all his personal effects, including his wedding ring, disappeared after his body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office, and none of it was returned to his family. The shell casings of both bullets that allowed to identify what kind of weapon was used in the murder, also disappeared. (Rooz Online, August 28, 2011).

According to Mr. Soudbakhsh’s son, his family was told that the cameras in Keshavarz Boulevard had not been functioning at the time of the assassination, whereas his brother had actually been able to locate a person who had been given a traffic ticket at that same location and at that same time based on a traffic camera report. He had asked the officials in charge of investigating the case why it was that the cameras were able to record that person’s tag number and issue a ticket on that basis, but the murderer’s face was not registered. They had answered that the cameras had stopped working due to a power outage and no video of the murder was recorded. Furthermore, closed circuit cameras for the pharmacy and the doctor’s office, as well as cameras that had been installed subsequent to the 2009 presidential elections demonstrations in order to identify the protesters, had been confiscated by security agents. Thus far, however, no explanation whatsoever has been given to Dr. Soudbakhsh’s family regarding the contents of those cameras and whether the assassins have been identified in the footage therein or not. (Boroumand Center interview).

Enghelab Police Precinct 148 officers and the Greater Tehran Prosecutor’s Office for Criminal Affairs’ Investigating Judge on duty arrived at the scene of the assassination after the motorcyclists fled. Prosecutor’s Office for Criminal Affairs’ Branch Seven and Central Criminal Investigations Bureau’s Tenth Division were put in charge of investigating the case. Composite sketches of the assassins were made based on eyewitness testimony (since they were not wearing masks), but neither the Prosecutor’s Office nor the Information Ministry paid any attention to the sketches. (Farhikhtegan, September 22, 2010).

According to Dr. Soudbakhsh’s son, when he was at the Criminal Investigations Bureau, instead of addressing his father’s case, they kept asking him strange questions about life in India, such as “how much is rent there”, or “how much is bread or gas?” The only question that had to do with his father’s case was whether he suspected anyone? (Rooz Online, August 24, 2011).

In order to identify and catch the perpetrators, the Health Minister wrote a letter to the Head of the Police Force asking for an all-out effort by the Police for the immediate identification and arrest of Dr. Soudbakhsh’s killers. (Farhikhtegan, September 22).

The Head of the Police Force’s statements regarding Dr. Soudbakhsh’s murder are contradictory. In a quick statement a short time after the event, he declared that “personal reasons” were the cause of the assassination, that the murder had no political motive and nothing to do with the Kahrizak events, and that the Doctor had no background in Kahrizak and was surely not a political person. (Boroumand Center interview). Two weeks after the murder, however, he stated that the murder case had not been solved yet. (ILNA, October 5, 2010).

It is not clear, based on the published report, what has actually happened to the case and why there are conflicting statements by judicial authorities and police officials

Furthermore, Prosecutor’s Office for Criminal Affairs’ Branch Seven and Central Criminal Investigations Bureau’s Tenth Division’s investigations revealed that Dr. Soudbakhsh had never received death threats from any individual or group. Although the Head of the Police Force had stated that personal motives were the cause of the murder, the head of Tehran Criminal Investigations Bureau announced that Dr. Soudbakhsh’s case had been taken from their Murder Special Unit at the request of judicial authorities, even though the Criminal Investigations Bureau was prepared to continue its investigations and identify the assassins. In the meantime, Prosecutor’s Office for Criminal Affairs’ Branch Seven’s Investigating Judge announced a different take and stated that no order had ever been issued to take Dr. Soudbakhsh’s murder case from the Criminal Investigations Bureau’s Murder special Unit and submit it to another body, and that the case should remain with Tehran Criminal Investigations Bureau’s Tenth Division. It is not clear, based on the published report, what has actually happened to the case and why there are conflicting statements by judicial authorities and police officials. (Vatan-e Emrooz, October 26, 2010).

The Family’s Actions and Reactions

Dr. Soudbakhsh’s family brought a complaint to the relevant judicial authority regarding his murder, without retaining an attorney, but nothing has come of it yet. Members of Dr. Soudbaksh’s family followed up on the case from the very beginning with the Criminal Investigations Police, the Prosecutor’s Office, and other relevant authorities, but the case kept being sent from one organ to the next without anyone being accountable. According to Dr. Soudbakhsh’s son, some very strange things happened from the very first days of pursuing his father’s assassination case. For instance, a few hours after the murder, the head of the country’s Police Force stated in his first reaction and without any proof or having studied the case, that “personal motives” were behind the assassination, and added that the murder had nothing to do with political issues related to the Kahrizak events. The main problem with that statement is that the Ministries of Health and the Ministry of Sciences [and Higher Education] are two separate ministries, and various lies aside, one cannot inquire about someone who works for the Ministry of Health from the Ministry of Sciences (Boroumand Center interview).

Dr. Soudbakhsh’s son explained: “A lot of things were done quickly and without any analysis; they basically wanted to mislead the public, which, fortunately, they failed to do. For instance, the Criminal Investigations Police had stated that ‘preliminary investigations indicate the reason and motive for the murder was personal, and any other motives are ruled out’ without having arrested or charged anybody, and without talking to our family or to my father’s colleagues. That statement was both unprofessional and irregular.” (Boroumand Center interview).

According to Dr. Soudbakhsh’s son, the Doctor had given an interview to Deutsche Welle Persian a few weeks prior to being murdered in which he had alluded to rape in prison; security officials thought that he wanted to leave the country and reveal more information about the Kahrizak events in a free environment. He said: “They killed my father because he wasn’t about to lie, and didn’t.” (The Guardian, August 25, 2011).

According to Dr. Soudbakhsh’s son, an eyewitness stated that the killers had not covered their faces and even though that district was full of closed circuit cameras, they had no fear of being seen and recognized. Another issue was that, in following up the case, Dr. Soudbakhsh’s family faced repeated transfer of the case from one governmental body to another. It wasn’t clear where the case was, and there was conflict between the statements made by the Investigating Judge in the case and those of the Head of the Criminal Investigation Bureau’s 10thDivision. (Boroumand Center interview).

Dr. Sudbaksh’s son wrote a letter to the Minister of Health, a copy of which he also sent to the Ministers of Information and the Interior, the Head of the Police Force, the Head of the Criminal Investigations Bureau, and to a number of news agencies and other media, in which he provided details of what had happened and the events post assassination. In the letter, he asked him to intervene and take the case under review. According to him, most relevant bodies did not provide a response and even said that they hadn’t received the letter; only the Minister of Health said that he would follow up on the case, and actually held interviews with several news publications. But then, even in the Ministry of Health, the letter was sent to the archives with the following written on it: “The case was considered and reviewed by the relevant and competent authorities and has reached a conclusion and come to a close,” which was a blatant lie, because not only has the case not reached a conclusion after so many years, there isn’t even a defendant in the case. I do not know who issued the order of writing such a blatant lie on my letter and filing it away.” (Boroumand Center interview).

Emphasizing the ultimate futility of the family’s persistent follow-ups with judicial authorities, Dr. Soudbakhsh’s son said: “Almost everyone who had attempted to do something in some way, found themselves in trouble. For instance, one person had said that he had seen the perpetrators, and after that, no one knows what happened to him, [he just vanished]. Or when the Criminal Investigations police came to our home in the first days after the killing, they threatened and harassed family members in some way. It must also be said that Keshavarz Boulevard is a crowded place and there were a lot of people there at the time of the assassination, but the police and judicial authorities did nothing to find witnesses. There are also a large number of closed circuit cameras at that location but they never tried to extract any information from them.” (Boroumand Center interview).

Dr. Soudbakhsh’s son added: “This claim that the murder had personal reasons runs contrary to my father’s personality. He had no issues with anybody. The authorities never found any evidence to prove the claim that this was a murder caused by personal issues; they also did not pursue the political angle. In our opinion, this murder was one hundred percent political and the assassination was because of my father’s work, not because of personal enmity. The authorities shut down my father’s office and did not allow anyone from our family to go there. They took absolutely whatever evidence and document was at my father’s office or in other places where he worked and had offices, and never told us what they had found. I believe they have taken whatever it was they did not want to be found. Or perhaps they were looking for clues that would enable them to prove it was a personal matter, but they were not able to find anything to that effect in spite of shutting the office down for several months. (Boroumand Center interview).

Almost everyone who had attempted to do something in some way, found themselves in trouble. For instance, one person had said that he had seen the perpetrators, and after that, no one knows what happened to him

Dr. Soudbakhsh’s other child said: “They knew very well the matter was not personal at all, and we are of the utmost certainty that it was absolutely not personal. My father was neither so rich that someone would want to kill him for money, nor did he have any enemies. His patients loved him and he had a great relationship with them. So many people came to his funeral services whom we did not know, and it was only when they introduced themselves that we realized they were my father’s patients. He was an honest man and helped his patients any way he could. One time, my mother was doing the accounting and noticed there was a 12-million-Tuman deficit. She asked my father about it and we learned that one of his patients needed money and he had just given it to him without taking a check or a promissory note as collateral. He did that sort of thing a lot. At the Criminal Investigations Bureau, we said if money was a motive, then it was my father who would have to be the plaintiff. Criminal Investigations officers themselves were saying that that could not be a motive. (Rooz Online, August 24, 2011).

According to Dr. Soudbakhsh’s child, “the motorcyclists had been cruising around the neighborhood for a full half hour without helmets and many people had seen them. That means that they were so confident and so sure of themselves that they were just going around without masks and helmets. This shows that they were very well-trained. At the same time, a taxicab had closed the street down for 10 minutes but the authorities have said nothing about the cab and do not say what role it played and why it had closed off the street. That the cameras stop working for 10 minutes, the same exact 10 minutes my father was assassinated, that the cab driver is not identified, and that trained assassins easily come without masks and helmets and murder and leave, and no suspects are arrested, truly does not happen anywhere in the world. It is very clear where and how these assassins were trained. Seven minutes after the shooting, more than 100 agents from various governmental organs were on the scene of the crime. How is that possible? Were they on alert? Did they know beforehand? If we have such fantastic security and rapid response in the country, how come not a single suspect has been arrested?” (Rooz Online, August 24, 2011).

Regarding the authorities’ statement as to the assassination not having anything to do with the Kahrizak events, Dr. Soudbakhsh’s child said: “This is exactly like saying that I have no connection to my father! How is that possible? All of my father’s documents are there; his medical files were registered; some of his patients were people who had been raped in prison. My father was an infectious diseases specialist. I remember very well that he was completely messed up for a while, so much so that we could tell something had happened. He kept very much to himself during that period. He would not say anything when we would ask him what had happened. One time, however, he said: “What cowards they are. How could they rape an 18-year-old kid so badly that he dies? How could they rape people’s kids like that...” My father’s medical files are there and one cannot brush this case aside by ignoring and denying it.” (Rooz Online, August 24, 2011).

“They had told him to officially certify that he had diagnosed the Kahrizak victims with Meningitis but my father had said he needed to examine them. When he did, he said that those kids had died under torture and there was no Meningitis. Regarding those of his patients who were among individuals released from Kahrizak, the authorities had told him that if he was giving them any certifications, they had to state that their genital infections were due to meningitis, but my father had refused. He had once given an interview to German Radio in which he had talked about urinary tract infections and blockages in some of the released detainees. My father was assassinated a few hours before he was supposed to fly out of the country. One newspaper had even written a story later that he had taken his family out of the country… and they thought that my father would go to the U.S. and divulge all the information he had in great detail and in a more open environment, because my father was among the very few people who had precise and accurate information about the Kahrizak events.” (Rooz Online, August 24, 2011).

Alluding to contradictions in the officials’ statements, Dr. Soudbakhsh’s son said: “For instance, the Ministry of Health’s Public relations Office pretended that this was a personal matter and that doctors were being attacked because there was tremendous pressure on them and on the hospital emergency staff since they were not able to take care of multiple patients simultaneously and expeditiously; this, in turn, created anger in the people who accompanied the patients, people who were supposed to be calm and patient. In other words, they were trying to say that it was the patients who had murdered my father and at the same time, blame my father for not being able to care for several people at the same time; that, in effect, one of them had gotten very angry and shot my father. How would a patient or his/her companion know [where and when to find my father] and to come to that crowded location on a motorcycle at the exact time my father is about to be travelling to Washington, D.C. in a few hours, and know that he only has that night to do this last minute job? What I want to convey is that all the authorities seemed to be following a single line of argument, that this was a personal matter, whereas all we ever heard all these years from my father’s colleagues and patients was praise for him and the job that he did. We have received messages in which his patients are grieving for him as if they themselves have lost a loved one.” (Boroumand Center interview).

Dr. Soudbakhsh’s son added: “We tried not to allow the case to go the route of an innocent person being blamed and brought forth as an accused and subsequently turn up dead and for the officials to say ‘this was the person who killed your father who has now committed suicide’. Even if the motive for the murder were a personal grudge, we want it to be proven specifically and clearly, not for the authorities to just find someone and say that the person is now dead and that everything is over and the case is closed. We tried every imaginable way to pursue the case in such a way as to reach a clear and transparent conclusion, and for the case to proceed legally; although that did not happen and we never got a clear answer to anything, at least we did not let them close the case based on lies.”

A Summary of the Defects of Mr. Soudbakhsh’s Legal Proceedings

The case file indicates that investigations conducted by judicial authorities and other relevant organs have not reached a conclusion thus far, and that no charges have been brought against any individuals. This does not seem plausible, considering that a number of years have passed since the murder. The manner in which the crime was carried out indicates that the possibility of identifying the murderers exists, since the murder occurred at 9 PM on one of Tehran’s busiest streets. The killers carried out the assassination by firing shots at the victim and they did not do so in a subtle way so as to enable them to hide their identities for too long.

There are legal defects in the case pertaining to preliminary investigations. First, the possibility of reviewing closed circuit camera footage definitely did exist but was not done under various pretexts [brought forth by the officials]. Secondly, there was no thorough investigation of the crime scene and eyewitnesses were not questioned. If the aforementioned actions had been taken, and the bullets taken from Dr. Sudbakhsh’s body had been sent for a ballistic analysis in order to identify the weapons used, it seems that the killers could have been identified. In accordance with the Law on the Rules of Criminal Procedure, the investigating judge in the case must conduct thorough and uninterrupted investigations in order to shed light on all aspects of the case.

In the hours following Dr. Soudbakhsh’s assassination, police officials announced that the murder was committed based on personal motives and had nothing to do with politics. Such a statement could only be believable if the relevant authorities had found the killers or at least had clues as to their identities, whereas, as the case currently stands, no trace of the killers has been found years after the murder. Therefore, the question that comes to mind is this: How did police officials figure out the assassins’ motive?

The case file indicates that the most significant motive for killing Dr. Soudbakhshs was the fact of his presence at Kahrizak Detention Center and his bearing witness to the events that occurred there. In any event, when such a motive is on the table, it is at least necessary to investigate and look into it. Given all the evidence, one can conclude that judicial authorities were not too keen on conducting investigations and getting to the truth.

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*Other duties: Dr. Soudbakhsh held positions such as Associate Professor at Tehran Medical Sciences University’s Infectious Diseases Department; Head of Imam Khomeini Hospital’s Infectious Diseases Treatment Center; Head of Imam Khomeini Hospital’s Committee to Control Infirmary and Emergency Infections; Head of Atieh Hospital Infection Control Committee; Member of the Board of Directors of the Society for the Protection of the Country’s Infectious Diseases Patients; Member of the Board of Directors of Iran’s Association of Tropical and Infectious Diseases Specialists; Member of the Promotion Committee at Tehran Medical Sciences University’s Infectious Diseases Department; Imam Khomeini Hospital Mortality Committee member; member of the Infections Department Research Committee; member of the Ministry of Health, Treatment, and Medical Education’s Entrance Examinations Committee; member of the State Committee on Tuberculosis; member of the State Committee on Malaria; member of the State Committee on Rabies; member of the Ministry of Health, Treatment, and Medical Education’s State Committee on AIDS; Infectious Diseases specialist; Medical Examiner’s Office Court Expert; State Physicians’ Order expert; member of Tehran Medical Sciences University’s Medical Engineering Committee; and member of the Sports Medicine Federation’s Education and Research Committee.

**A brief summary of the events in Iran after the 2009 Presidential Elections

Iran’s tenth Presidential Elections were held on Friday, June 12, 2009, and Mahmud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner for a second term with 62.63 percent of the votes. Nationwide demonstrations protesting the elections results began immediately. Cell phone text messaging services were cut off on the night of Thursday, June 11, 2009, at 11 PM. The disruption in messaging services continued during the elections and thereafter until July 1. During the elections, Iran’s acting Commander of the Police Force declared that the gathering of the of the presidential candidates’ supporters was illegal across the country. In the afternoon of that same day, the Police Force conducted exercises in Tehran’s squares, called the “authority exercise”, with the declared aim of “establishing order and security at voting stations and in ballot boxes”. While Iran’s Minister of the Interior had stated that the results of the presidential elections results would be announced gradually after the call to Morning Prayer (around 4 AM), the Head of the State Elections Headquarters began announcing the results shortly after midnight.

Believing that the results had been rigged, the people came onto the streets on June 13 and demonstrated their dissatisfaction. Ahmadinejad’s rival candidates, Mussavi, Karrubi, and Rezai, declared that numerous violations had occurred in the elections and objected to the results. They submitted their complaint to the Guardian Council and demanded that the elections results be nullified and new elections take place. In the meantime, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, congratulated Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s victory, before the Guardian Council could examine the results and issue a decision. A large number of people who worked at Karrubi and Mussavi’s elections headquarters and various offices were arrested.

On June 15, unprecedented demonstrations took place in Tehran’s central streets. According to Tehran’s mayor, approximately 3 million people participated in the marches. Toward the end of the demonstrations, a number of people were killed and wounded by paramilitary forces. In order to prevent the news of the events from being disseminated, the Iranian government expelled foreign journalists and banned news agencies from publishing the news. Widespread and peaceful marches took place in the next three days in Tehran. Following Ayatollah Khamenei’s declaration of support for Ahmadinejad in the June 19 Friday Prayers, which Amnesty International labelled as “legitimizing violent action by the armed forces” in suppressing the protestors, the crackdown and persecutions took on a new form. On June 20, and thereafter, the Police and paramilitary forces started clamping down on protesters. All public gatherings were declared illegal and made violent by the Police and plainclothes militia.

Paramilitary forces known as “plainclothes” [militia] are groups that are used to quash and suppress protest gatherings, as well as to suppress union, student, and electoral assemblies. Not much information is available on how these groups are organized and from whom they take their orders. These forces usually wear regular clothes and are not clad in a specific uniform. They are sometimes equipped with sticks and clubs, sometimes with chains and knives, and sometimes with firearms, and appear when the regime intends to clamp down on the people. What is clear is that, even when the Police and the armed forces do not actually accompany them in their actions, they make no efforts to quell their violence, and the plainclothes militia freely roam about among the police and the armed forces and proceed to savagely beat the protestors before the eyes of the police. In the course of the events after the June 2009 elections, the people put up these individuals’ pictures on the internet and were thus able to identify some of them; the people were able to present evidence establishing their connection to the Bassij, the Revolutionary Guards Corps, and security forces. On September 16, 2009, the acting commander of Tehran Province Seyyedoshohada [Revolutionary Guards] Corps confirmed the active participation of the Bassij Resistance Force and their determinant role in suppressing the people and said: “With their presence in recent incidents, the Bassijis rendered the seditious instigators blind and they must be commended and appreciated for their actions… The enemies of Islam wanted to muddy the waters and take advantage of recent events but thank Allah, we were able to come out victorious thanks to the Supreme Leader’s enlightened guidance.” He emphasized: “The proud young men of the Bassij, followers of the Supreme Leader, who are the revolution’s second and third generation, were successful and victorious in this theatre.”

In the course of the protests, damage was done to private citizens’ property. Government officials and the State radio and television tried to blame the protesters for the destruction of property and to use that as an excuse to justify the suppression, whereas photographs and video taken during demonstrations and put on the internet, showed the armed forces in side streets and secluded areas, far from public protests, destroying property. On October 20, 2009, during the Greater Tehran Police Commanders General Meeting, the Islamic Republic’s Commander of the Police Force acknowledged and accepted responsibility for the destruction of citizens’ property by the Police Force.

There is no exact information regarding the number of casualties, dead or wounded, or those who have disappeared. According to various reports, the number of the victims of these marches nationwide is in the hundreds, 70 of whom have been reported and identified. Furthermore, the authorities have threatened a number of victims’ families to keep quiet and not give interviews to the media. It has been said that certain conditions were set by the authorities for turning over the bodies of the victims to their families, including for them to agree to a change of the cause of death in the Medical Examiner’s death certificate to natural causes such as heart attack and the like, to relinquish their rights to bring a complaint, and to refrain from holding services for their loved ones. According to government sources, more than four thousand people were arrested across the country after June 12, many of whom were detained at Kahrizak Detention Center, without any respect for prisoners’ rights, denying them basic health and hygiene. Multiple reports of violence, torture, and rape of the detainees have been published. A number of detainees died due to beatings, unbearable and difficult conditions, and the torture they underwent at Kahrizak prison.

The death of several detainees in June-July 2009, especially that of the son of an adviser to one of the highest ranking officials of the Islamic Republic, made the Kahrizak Prison tragedy the talk of the day. Some authorities stated that sending protestors, students in particular, to Kahrizak was due to a mistake; ultimately, the Leader of the Islamic republic ordered that the detention center be shut down. A Majless (Iranian Parliament) Special Committee prepared a report on the events which was presented on the floor at a general session on January 10, 2010. The Committee demanded that all the perpetrators of the tragedy be tried, and emphasized that the protestors’ “illegal actions”, that were the [actual] cause of the events, must also be taken into consideration.

In a letter addressed to the President of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (“Majless”) dated January 16, 2010, Judge Sa’eed Mortazavi, the former Tehran General and Revolutionary Prosecutor, confirmed the dispatching of the arrestees to Kahrizak and denied that any mistakes were made by the Prosecutor’s Office in that regard. Judge Mortazavi disputed the Committee’s finding that Kahrizak was at full capacity and had no room for additional detainees, and that the judge issuing the order of dispatch had insisted on their being held there. Mortazavi stated that, of the 380 people arrested on July 9, 2009, in front of Tehran University, the judges had dispatched about 147 individuals to Kahrizak. He further stated that the dispatch had taken place subsequent to an inquiry from Kahrizak Prison and that “the relevant authorities at the Greater Tehran Police Force” had declared that they had the capacity to hold 400 new prisoners. He stressed that the dispatch was legal and that the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office of the Assistant Prosecutor for Security Affairs, Branch One’s former Assistant Prosecutor had signed the order to dispatch the detainees to Kahrizak. He further emphasized that “from a legal standpoint, since the detention center is an official and legal place [to hold detainees], dispatching the arrestees to the location is not considered a violation requiring disciplinary action”.

The case file indicates that investigations conducted by judicial authorities and other relevant organs have not reached a conclusion thus far, and that no charges have been brought against any individuals. This does not seem plausible, considering that a number of years have passed since the murder. The manner in which the crime was carried out indicates that the possibility of identifying the murderers exists, since the murder occurred at 9 PM on one of Tehran’s busiest streets. The killers carried out the assassination by firing shots at the victim and they did not do so in a subtle way so as to enable them to hide their identities for too long.

There are legal defects in the case pertaining to preliminary investigations. First, the possibility of reviewing closed circuit camera footage definitely did exist but was not done under various pretexts [brought forth by the officials]. Secondly, there was no thorough investigation of the crime scene and eyewitnesses were not questioned. If the aforementioned actions had been taken, and the bullets taken from Dr. Sudbakhsh’s body had been sent for a ballistic analysis in order to identify the weapons used, it seems that the killers could have been identified. In accordance with the Law on the Rules of Criminal Procedure, the investigating judge in the case must conduct thorough and uninterrupted investigations in order to shed light on all aspects of the case.

In the hours following Dr. Sudbakhsh’s assassination, police officials announced that the murder was committed based on personal motives and had nothing to do with politics. Such a statement could only be believable if the relevant authorities had found the killers or at least had clues as to their identities, whereas, as the case currently stands, no trace of the killers has been found years after the murder. Therefore, the question that comes to mind is this: How did police officials figure out the assassins’ motive?

The case file indicates that the most significant motive for killing Dr. Sudbakhshs was the fact of his presence at Kahrizak Detention Center and his bearing witness to the events that occurred there. In any event, when such a motive is on the table, it is at least necessary to investigate and look into it. Given all the evidence, one can conclude that judicial authorities were not too keen on conducting investigations and getting to the truth.

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