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UN experts urge Iran probe into blogger’s death

Published on 15/11/2012

Four UN human rights experts called Thursday for Iran to launch a full probe into the death in custody of an Internet blogger after allegedly being tortured in a case that has provoked an international outcry.

“There should be zero-tolerance for torture,” said the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, referring to blogger Sattar Beheshti who died in prison on November 3 just days after his arrest.

Opposition activists say Beheshti, 35, was tortured to death after criticising Iran’s regime in his blogs.

“It is imperative that people who are potentially involved in committing such gruesome crimes are investigated and brought to justice,” Shaheed said.

Iran said Tuesday it has arrested several people over Beheshti’s death and the judiciary pledged on Sunday that it would soon make public the findings of a probe into the case.

Another special rapporteur, Juan Mendez, urged Iran to ensure that an inquiry is opened in “each case of alleged torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in detention facilities and perpetrators are held accountable for their acts”.

Christof Heyns, another of the rights experts, said urgent steps were needed “to combat a culture of impunity which encourages such crimes”.

Heyns also called on Iran to release journalists and bloggers imprisoned in contravention of international human rights pacts and provide them with effective judicial redress and compensation.

Harsh prison sentences handed down to journalists and bloggers, following trials in which defendants rights to due process and a fair trial are not guaranteed, exemplify broader conditions of severe restrictions on freedom of expression and opinion, said another special rapporteur Frank La Rue.

The UN human rights office said other detainees in Iran had also allegedly died in custody from “mistreatment or torture, lack of medical attention or neglect”.