Mahsa Amini: Iran police say woman’s death was ‘unfortunate’

By David Gritten

BBC News

Iranian newspapers on sale in Tehran show photographs of Mahsa Amini on 18 September 2022Image source, WANA NEWS AGENCY

Image caption,

Questions about Mahsa Amini’s death dominated the front pages of Iranian newspapers on Sunday

Tehran’s police chief says the death of a woman in custody last week was an “unfortunate” incident that he does not want repeated, local media report.

Mahsa Amini, 22, collapsed hours after she was detained by morality police for allegedly violating strict hijab rules.

Witnesses accused officers of beating her, sparking protests in the capital and her home province of Kurdistan.

But Police Brig-Gen Hossein Rahimi called such claims “cowardly” and insisted she suffered no physical harm.

“We will wait until the day of judgement, but we cannot stop doing security work,” the hard-line Fars news agency quoted him as saying on Monday.

Ms Amini, an ethnic Kurd who was from the western city of Saqez, died in hospital on Friday after spending three days in a coma.

She was detained outside a metro station in Tehran on Tuesday by morality police. They accused her of breaking the law requiring women to cover their hair with a headscarf, and their arms and legs with loose clothing.

According to witnesses, she was beaten while inside a police van that took her to a detention centre.

Police rejected the allegation and said she suffered “sudden heart failure” while waiting with other women at the facility to be “educated”.

They released CCTV footage that showed a woman they identified as Ms Amini talking with a female official, who grabs her clothing. She is then seen holding her head with her hands and collapsing to the ground.

The interior minister said on Saturday that Ms Amini “apparently had previous physical problems”.

However, her father told pro-reform news outlets on Sunday that she was “fit and had no health problems”. He also said his daughter had suffered bruising to her legs and that the CCTV footage showed an “edited version” of events.

Her death triggered widespread criticism of the actions of the morality police, which recently launched a crackdown on “improper clothing”.

Protests erupted in Saqez after her funeral on Saturday, with security forces reportedly opening fire on a crowd that marched towards the local governor’s office and chanted “death to the dictator”, which is often aimed at Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

There were also clashes between protesters and riot police in Sanandaj, Kurdistan’s capital, on Saturday and Sunday.

Kurdish human rights group Hengaw said at least 38 people were injured by live rounds or rubber bullets, five of them critically.

Videos posted on social media on Monday also reportedly showed fresh protests in Kurdistan and at universities in Tehran.

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