Iranian ex-judge dies in Romania, falls from hotel window

Iranian ex-judge dies in Romania, falls from hotel window

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) – A former Iranian judge prosecuted by his country for corruption died Friday after being dropped at a hotel in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, said the head of the international section of Iranian police.

Confirming the death of Gholamreza Mansouri came from the Romanian police, said Iran’s chief of Interpol, General Hadi Shirzad, who was quoted by Iran’s semi-official INSA news agency.

Shirzad said the Romanian authorities told Iran that 66-year-old Mansouri had ‘thrown himself out the window of his Bucharest hotel.’ An investigation by Iran’s international police is underway, he said.

Earlier, the Romanian police had only confirmed that a man from a high floor had fallen into a hotel in Bucharest and was found dead at 2:30 PM. (1130 GMT). They did not identify him.

Mansouri, who fled Iran last year after authorities claimed there that he accepted about $ 500,000 ($ 560,000) in bribes, faced an extradition request from Iran and dismissed the allegations. He said in a video statement last week that he left Iran for unspecified medical treatment and that the travel restrictions of the coronavirus prevented him from returning to face the charges.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said his country has asked the Romanian authorities to send an official report, state-run news agency IRNA reports.

Mousavi said the judge had recently visited the Iranian embassy and discussed how to return to Iran, “and because he was searched by the Iranian judiciary through international police, he was arrested by the Romanian Interpol.”

Earlier this week, journalist rights organizations and Iranian dissidents urged Romania not to deport Mansouri and said he should be prosecuted in Europe for ordering the mass arrest of journalists while serving as a judge in Tehran.

The German chapter of Reporters Without Borders last week filed a complaint with federal prosecutors in Germany, urging Mansouri to be investigated for allegations of torture and human rights abuses for ordering the arrest of 20 reporters in Iran in 2013 .

German prosecutors confirmed on Wednesday that they were handling the complaint, and Reporters without Borders said it had now made a second complaint to the Romanian authorities after learning that Mansouri had already slipped out of Germany.

It was not clear when Mansouri traveled to Romania, but Iran’s judicial spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaeili, said on June 13 that Mansouri had been arrested there and expected to be returned to Iran “the next day.”

According to the Romanian authorities, Mansouri had been released from custody but kept under ‘judicial supervision’, forbidding him to leave the country and reporting to the authorities at their request.

Mansouri is best known for ordering the massive arrest of reporters in 2013 towards the end of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hardline.

But in 2012, he also banned reformist newspaper Shargh and kept the editor-in-chief informed of a published cartoon that the authorities found offensive to those who fought in the Iran-Iraq war.

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Writers from Associated Press Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, David Rising in Berlin and Andreea Alexandru in Bucharest contributed to this report.

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