| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

Head of Iran’s morality police suspended amid protests over death in custody, reports suggest

Following protests across Iran over the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who was detained by the police after being accused of not wearing the hijab properly, the head of Iran’s morality police has reportedly been suspended. Several Iranian news outlets reported that Col Ahmed Mirzaei, the head of the moral security police of Greater Tehran, had been suspended after the death of Mahsa Amini. However, Tehran police denied he had been suspended or fired.

A CT scan of Amini’s head showed a bone fracture, haemorrhage, and brain edema, seemingly confirming that a strike to the head killed her. If confirmed, the reports will prove to be a huge setback for the morality police and also the wider Tehran police force. Edited videos of her arrest and detention in a police centre were published earlier and were designed to show she died due to a heart condition or epilepsy.

President Ebrahim Raisi spoke to Amini’s family by phone on Sunday. “Your daughter is like my own daughter, and I feel that this incident happened to one of my loved ones. Please accept my condolences,” state media reported him as saying. Since his election last year, Raisi has tightened enforcement of the headscarf law.

Meanwhile, the Hengaw Human Rights Organisation said on Monday that five people were killed in Iran when security forces opened fire during protests over the incident. The official news agency IRNA said there were “limited” protests in a number of cities in seven provinces that were dispersed by police.

Holding the police responsible for the death of his daughter, Amini’s father has repeatedly said she had no health problems.

Speaking at a press conference, the Greater Tehran police commander, Hossein Rahimi, said Amini was stopped by the morality police, known as “Gasht-e Ershad”, while walking in a park because her hijab was “inappropriate”. He claimed the police had not made mistakes and railed against the “cowardly accusations” being made against his force.

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