Exclusive: What Fugitive Iran Judge Told A Court In Romania Before His Mysterious Death
Radio Farda June 27, 2020
The fugitive Iranian judge Gholamreza Mansouri who was found dead in suspicious circumstances at a Bucharest hotel on June 19, had told an extradition hearing in Romania that the corruption charges against him had been a "bogus scenario".
Mansouri was wanted in Iran for corruption and in Germany for human rights violations. Iranian authorities filed a case for his extradition on June 11 for complicity in setting up a criminal group and taking bribes.
The news about Mansouri's presence in Europe earlier this month prompted Iranian human rights activists and Amnesty International to demand his arrest for detaining, torturing and jailing dozens of Iranian journalists.
He was arrested in Romania and an extradition hearing was held in court.
According to the minutes of the hearing regarding Mansouri's extradition held on June 12 in Bucharest that has been provided exclusively to Radio Farda, Mansouri told the court that he had been a judge for thirty years, performed his duties with diligence and a bogus scenario had been prepared by the authorities against him after his retirement last year.
Gholamreza Mansouri was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court by the ex-Chief Justice Sadeq Amoli-Larijani before he retired. The corruption case is highly damaging to the ex-Chief Justice who now heads the very influential Expediency Council appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Mansouri did not offer details about the "scenario" but the court-appointed lawyer who represented Mansouri and also acted as his translator said the corruption charges brought against Mansouri were "unfounded" and "political" in nature. The prime suspect in the corruption case is former Deputy Chief Justice Akbar Tabari.
Mansouri's court-appointed lawyer said the main charge brought against him was receiving bribes to make favorable rulings for individuals later implicated in a major corruption case in Iran. The lawyer claimed that judge Mansouri had no authority to do so and "simply implemented the verdicts of another judge" who was not named in the hearing. In the trial in Iran there has been no mention of any other judges in conjunction with Mansouri's alleged crimes.
Mansouri allegedly received a half million euro bribe (about $560,000) from one of the defendants in the corruption case to ensure that he was acquitted. The said defendant escaped the country last year and is considered a fugitive now. In total, eight defendants fled Iran including Mansouri.
Another defendant in the case who personally delivered the money to Mansouri in several installments said Mansouri had demanded that in the corruption trial he should say the money was paid to him as a loan.
Mansouri's lawyer argued that there were serious grounds to believe extradition would not meet the conditions provided by law and that there was no danger if he was released considering that he voluntarily showed up at the Iranian embassy when he found out about being prosecuted in Iran and would continue to work with the criminal investigation bodies.
According to the lawyer, medical records in the file showed that Mansouri had suffered some convulsive seizures the previous night and was also afraid not only for his own life but also for his family back in Iran.
Mansouri also stated that he was in possession of evidence in Romania about his innocence and would prepare it for presentation to the next session of the court if he was not held in detention.
The court decided that while Mansouri could be extradited in principle, Iranian authorities had not offered sufficient evidence and ruled against pre-trial detention but required that he remain in Romania under judicial control and supervision for a period of 30 days to prevent him from evading the extradition trial.
He was released and stayed in the Duke Hotel, where he mysteriously fell from height and died on June 19.
With assistance from the Romanian Service of RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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