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Legal Action Taken Against Prison Staff in Iranian Protester’s Death

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Legal action has been filed against the prison medic and jailer of Javad Rouhi, a protester who died under suspicious circumstances in Nowshahr Prison.

Majid Kaveh, the attorney for the family, said the medic faces charges of “involuntary manslaughter” while the jailer is accused of “failure to deliver prisoners’ complaints to competent authorities.” The case has now been forwarded to the Sari Criminal Court for further proceedings.

Rouhi was arrested in the midst of the September 2022 uprising during a protest in Nowshahr, where he was later sentenced to death under charges including dancing at a protest and allegedly burning a police kiosk. Additional charges of apostasy were levied against him for purportedly desecrating the Quran and insulting sacred values, charges that Rouhi and his legal representatives have disputed. CCTV evidence suggested Rouhi’s mere presence at the protest site, with no involvement in the alleged acts of vandalism or desecration.

Despite international outcry from organizations like Amnesty International which said authorities subjected Rouhi and others to “beatings, floggings, electric shocks, suspension, death threats and sexual violence to extract “confessions””, Iran has consistently shirked responsibility for his death and the deaths of other protesters, maintaining a stance of denial.

His death on August 31 last year was reported as being due to a “seizure” by Mizan News Agency, Iran’s judiciary media outlet, in echoes of high profile deaths such as Mahsa Amini, who died in morality police custody for not wearing her hijab correctly. Her death sparked the 2022 Woman, Life, Freedom uprising. After a UN investigation attributing her death to violence while in custody, the government called the claims “baseless”.