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Fugitive Iranian Judge Found Dead in Romania

Fugitive Iranian Judge Found Dead in Romania

Friday, 19 June, 2020 - 17:15
Forensic medicine staff carry a body bag, allegedly containing the remains of Gholamreza Mansouri, outside a hotel in downtown Bucharest, Romania, June 19, 2020. (Reuters)

A fugitive Iranian judge sought by Tehran for alleged corruption was found dead after apparently falling from a hotel room in Bucharest, Romanian police said Friday.

The police said an investigation was under way after a foreign national aged 52, who they identified as Gholamreza Mansouri, was found in the early afternoon.

It was not clear if he had fallen or been pushed from his sixth-floor room.

Mansouri had been arrested last week in the Romanian capital and was placed on probation for a month pending an Iranian extradition request.

Mansouri was wanted in his homeland over alleged corruption within the country's judicial system amid reports he accepted 500,000 euros ($530,000) in bribes.

Reporters Without Borders meanwhile has accused him of torture and crimes against humanity following the 2013 detention of 20 journalists in Iran. It filed a complaint with federal prosecutors in Germany last week, urging that Mansouri be investigated.

The group had said at the time it believed Mansouri was "probably currently in Germany for medical treatment" and demanded his "immediate arrest."

German prosecutors confirmed Wednesday they were looking into the complaint, and Reporters without Borders said it had now filed a second complaint with Romanian authorities after learning Mansouri had slipped away from Germany already.

Mansouri had denied the allegations. He said last week in a video statement that he left Iran for unspecified medical treatment and that coronavirus travel restrictions prevented him from returning to face the charges.

It was not clear when Mansouri traveled to Romania, but Iran’s judiciary spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaeili, said June 13 that Mansouri had been arrested there and was expected to be returned to Iran “in the following days.”

Earlier this week, journalist rights groups and Iranian dissidents urged Romania to not deport Mansouri, saying he should be prosecuted in Europe for ordering the mass arrest of reporters while serving as a judge in Tehran.

According to Romanian authorities, Mansouri had been released from custody but kept under “judicial control," during which he was banned from leaving the country and was obliged to present himself to authorities at their request.

Mansouri is best known for ordering the mass arrest of the reporters in 2013 toward the end of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s time in office.

But in 2012, he also banned the reformist Shargh daily newspaper and detained its editor-in-chief over a published cartoon that authorities deemed insulting to those who fought in the Iran-Iraq war.

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