Iranian president orders probe of woman's death in custody

Ebrahim Raisi asks minister to investigate the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained by the morality police



Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

By AP

Published: Fri 16 Sep 2022, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 16 Sep 2022, 8:01 PM

Iran’s president has ordered a probe into the case of a young woman who slipped into a comma while in custody in Tehran and died, state media reported on Friday. The police have said she suffered a heart attack.

According to the state-run IRNA news agency, President Ebrahim Raisi asked Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi to “investigate the cause of the incident with urgency and special attention".

According to reports on social media, Mahsa Amini, 22, was detained earlier this week by the “morality police" after officers apparently found fault with her headscarf, or hijab.

The headscarf has been compulsory for women in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and members of the morality police enforce the strict dress code.

Police said on Thursday that Amini was taken to a hospital after she allegedly had a heart attack while in custody. Pro-reform news websites quoted an uncle of Amini as saying she had no history of heart disease.

Police said she was arrested on Tuesday.

The official website of Iran's judiciary, Mizan.news, said that Tehran's chief prosecutor Ali Salehi ordered a police team of forensic pathologists to examine the medical aspects of the case.

Iran's morality police has been criticised in recent years over its treatment of people, especially young women, and videos uploaded on social media have shown officers forcing women into police vehicles.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has supported a softer attitude toward women who do not comply with the official dress code.

But hard-liners have called for harsh punishment and even lashes, arguing that allowing women to show their hair leads to moral decay and the disintegration of families. The judiciary has in recent years urged people to inform on women who do not wear the hijab.

Since 2017, after dozens of women publicly took off their headscarves in a wave of protests, the authorities adopted tougher measures.

Amini's case has drawn condemnation from Iranian celebrities, athletes and other public figures.

Former pro-reform President Mohammad Khatami said the behaviour of the morality police was a “disaster" while outspoken politician and former lawmaker Mahmoud Sadeghi called on Khamenei to speak publicly about Amini's case.

Popular former soccer player Ali Karimi tweeted that while children of high-ranking officials are leaving the country, “our children are dying".

Hossein Mahini, another former soccer player, said in a tweet, addressing the morality police: “We hate you.”


More news from MENA