Iran seeks answers in death of fugitive judge

The Iranian judiciary seeks answers after a fugitive judge fell from a hotel window in Bucharest.

al-monitor Forensic investigators carry the body of former Iranian Judge Gholamreza Mansouri, who died after a falling from the upper floor of a hotel in Bucharest, Romania, June 19, 2020.  Photo by OCTAV GANEA/AFP via Getty Images.

Jun 22, 2020

Iranian officials are seeking answers from Romanian authorities after former Iranian judge Gholamreza Mansouri, who was facing corruption charges in Iran, fell out of an upper window Friday at the Duke Hotel in Bucharest, Romania.

Mansouri, a former member of Iran’s Supreme Court, was facing extradition to Iran on charges that he allegedly took about 500,000 euros in bribes. He had been staying at the Duke Hotel for 10 days before his death. According to Romanian media, Mansouri was on his way back to his room after paying his hotel bill at the front desk. Romanian police are currently reviewing camera footage.

General Prosecutor of Iran Mohammad Jaffar Montazeri called Mansouri’s death “suspicious" and said Iran would not be able to make specific comments until more is made clear about his death. Montazeri said the judiciary has written a letter to Romanian officials, which will be delivered through Iran’s Foreign Ministry. Iran also invited the Romanian Ambassador Adrian Kozjacski to answer questions about Mansouri’s death.

Mansouri had cancer and claimed he traveled to Germany to seek treatment but was unable to fly back to Iran after having traveled to Romania to face charges due to the coronavirus shutdown. According to Iranian media, Mansouri had spoken to his lawyer and family members before he died and was in good spirits. An Iranian judiciary official said that he was not facing a heavy sentence, suggesting that it could be a maximum of three years, adding more to speculation as to why he would take his own life if facing such a small prison sentence.

Mansouri was caught up in the current corruption probe against the previous judiciary leadership of Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani, who has been replaced by Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi. Larijani was replaced at the orders of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after his tenure, and Raisi was given the green light to pursue corruption charges against officials both big and small. Mansouri’s case is related to the corruption case of Akbar Tabari, former director-general of finance and executive deputy of the judiciary of the Islamic Republic. Mansouri was considered to be among the low-level tiers in the charges, with Tabari being in the first tier.

Complicating the matter is that a number of human rights organizations defending the rights of journalists have sought charges against Mansouri for human rights abuses. The German chapter of Reporters Without Borders filed a complaint with federal prosecutors in Germany for Mansouri ordering the arrest of reporters in 2013. Mansouri had traveled to Romania before German authorities could take action. According to some human rights activists, there was enough evidence to show that Mansouri was responsible for human rights abuses, but such cases would typically have to be on a large scale to be prosecuted in Europe for crimes committed in other countries for the cases to be successful.

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