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Iran Prisoner's Death In Custody Under Investigation

The Prisons Organization of Tehran province in a statement Thursday confirmed the news Tuesday about the death in custody of Shahin Naseri, who gave testimony in the trial of a political prisoner and  wrestler Navid Afkari hanged September 12, 2020. It said Naseri died after 45 minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) − used for cardiac of respiratory arrest − at the prison infirmary failed to revive him.

The statement described the 50-year-old Naseri as a "professional fraudster" who had served eight years in prison for fraud and forgery without mentioning his role in the Afkari case. 

It said Naseri had "gone" to the infirmary, where he was administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation, an epinephrine injection and fixed intravenous fluid injection due to an "emergency condition." The statement said the precise cause of death was being investigated by the coroner's office and would be announced later.

Two days earlier, inmates of the Greater Tehran penitentiary (also known as Fashafouyeh) informed Naseri's family and rights organizations of his death.

The Oslo-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) Thursday cited an “informed source” that Naseri had written a statement for the first anniversary of Afkari's execution and intended to read it to media outlets over the phone, a plan that led prison security to transfer him to solitary confinement. Naseri was nonetheless able to borrow a phone and make several calls to a lawyer.

The source told IHR that after Naseri's death, Ali Alqasi-Mehr, Tehran prosecutor, and Mohammad Shahriari, head of the Criminal Justice Court, had Tuesday visited the prison ward where Naseri had been held before solitary and spoke with inmates.

The source said prisoners told Alqasi-Mehr and Shahriari that Naseri had not been ill, had no enemies, and had shown no signs of being suicidal. The source added that the two officials’ presence suggested the authorities planned a cover-up over Naseri’s death.

"Shahin Naseri had been repeatedly put in solitary confinement and abused for bravely testifying about Navid Afkari's torture but never surrendered to the pressures of security forces," IHR chairman Mahmoud Amiri-Moghadam said Thursday. "The responsibility for Shahin Naseri's death, for whatever reason that the authorities claim, lies with the Prison's Organization, the Judiciary, and the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic [Ali Khamenei]. They must be held accountable.”

Naseri, who had shared a cell with Afkari at Adel-Abad Prison of Shiraz, testified in Afkari’s trial that he had witnessed him being beaten to secure his confession to the murder of a government security agent Hasan Turkman. In an audio-file sent from prison, Naseri said he had been threatened after submitting his testimony by an investigation judge for “interfering in a security case.”

Afkari sent several audio messages from prison in which he said he had confessed only under physical and psychological duress to killing Turkman during anti-government protests in Shiraz in 2018.

A British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National and journalist at Iran International
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