Iran says Romania has not shared details of death of fugitive judge

Iran says that Romanian officials have not shared any information about the death in their country of fugitive judge Gholamreza Mansouri.

al-monitor Forensic medicine staff carry a body bag, allegedly containing the remains of Gholamreza Mansouri, outside a hotel in downtown Bucharest, Romania, June 19, 2020.  Photo by Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea via REUTERS.

Jun 29, 2020

According to Iranian Foreign Ministry Abbas Mousavi, Romania has not shared any information regarding a fugitive Iranian judge who died in their country on June 19. Mousavi said June 29, “This case has many ambiguities. At the moment that this happened, we asked the Romanian government to be transparent and put the necessary information before us.” He continued, “Until now, unfortunately, nothing has been provided from the Romanian government.”

Gholamreza Mansouri, a former judge on Iran's Supreme Court, fell out of an upper-floor window earlier in the month. He was wanted in Iran on charges of receiving over $500,000 in bribes. When Mansouri left Iran, he had claimed he was going to Germany for medical treatment. It is unclear why he ended up in Romania, but he had maintained that he would return to Iran.

Mansouri’s bribery charges were part of a much larger corruption case in Iran. According to Iranian media, he was not facing a long prison sentence given that there were much more severe corruption charges involved in that case.

Mousavi added that Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Tehran's ambassador to Romania, Iran’s judiciary and Interpol are all pursuing the case, but he added that all they have been told so far is what they have read in Romanian media. 

An article in Khabar online quoting Hadi Shirzad, the head of Iran’s international police, said June 29 that despite the fact Mansouri was wanted by Iran and the Romanian government had been informed of the request, he was not kept inside a jail due to the coronavirus outbreak. According to Shirzad, Iran was first notified of Mansouri’s death by the Romanian police, who initially ruled his death a suicide. 

Shirzad said Iran’s police and Romanian police have been in contact, and Romanian officials have said more information will be shared. He added that Iran also requested Mansouri’s DNA. 

Conservative parliamentarian and chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy commission Mojtaba Zolnouri referred to Mansouri’s death as “murder.” According to an article in hard-line Jahan News, Zolnouri said, “There is speculation that there is a link between domestic and foreign groups.” He added that “it’s practically impossible” to murder a judge and not have the police of a country know what happened. Zolnouri hinted at a grander conspiracy, saying that Mansouri’s murder was done in order to make Iran look like the suspect and have accusations be put against it.

While Iranian judiciary and police officials seek answers regarding the death of Mansouri, Iranian Health Ministry officials are still battling the coronavirus. In a live interview on Iranian TV on Monday, Iran’s Health Ministry Spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari said 162 individuals had died from the virus in the last 24 hours. This is the highest daily death total from the virus since early April. According to Sadar Lari, there have been more than 2,500 new cases in the country in the preceding 24 hours. She said there has been a “concerning” rise in coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Tehran, which she attributed to the reopenings and a lack of observing health guidelines.

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