Differing police accounts on death of Iran judge in Romania

Radio Farda – Fugitive former Iranian judge, Gholamreza Mansouri, was found dead in the Romanian capital Bucharest in suspicious circumstances.

Initially RFE/RL’s correspondent in Bucharest was told by the police that the man fell from the sixth floor window of the hotel onto the sidewalk but later in the evening authorities gave a totally different version of the death, saying Mansouri’s body was found inside the hotel near the lobby.

Our correspondent says that the hotel is not a large building with only a small atrium. From photos of the building it appears to also have a backyard.

Reuters says that he fell from the window but his body was inside the hotel.

So if the falling down version is true, then it happened inside the hotel and the body did not fall on the sidewalk. This still does not resolve the issue of how exactly he died – possible suicide or murder.

Based on initial official reports, Duke Hotel receptionist in Bucharest informed the Romanian police that the body of a resident from one of the upper floors had been found at 2:30 pm local time on the sidewalk in front of the hotel.

Mansouri’s name was not initially announced by the police but later our correspondent cited the Romanian Police spokesman as confirming that the deceased was Gholamreza Mansouri. He was already dead by the time the ambulance arrived. Police say he fell from the sixth floor.

The spokesman of Iran’s foreign ministry Abbas Mousavi in Tehran confirmed Mansouri’s death and said his country is waiting for Romania to officially convey the exact reason for the deadly incident.

Detectives from the Romanian homicide department have initiated an investigation to decide the nature of the deadly incident, our reporter says, adding they are trying to find whether it was a murder, a suicide or an accident.

The fugitive judge is accused of receiving half a million euros (about $560,000) bribe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. During a recent court hearing about widespread financial corruption in the country’s Judiciary it was revealed that Judge Mansouri had fled Iran.

The news about his presence in Europe earlier this month prompted Iranian human rights activists and Amnesty International to demand his arrest for persecuting journalists in Iran.

Later, it was revealed that the fugitive judge was in Bucharest, Romania. Reacting to the revelation the Islamic Republic said that Judge Mansouri was under Interpol detention at Tehran’s request. “He will soon be extradited to Iran,” the Islamic republic Judiciary claimed at the time.

Nonetheless, a Romanian court on June 12 postponed the extradition of Mansouri, demanding Tehran present documents and evidence against the accused. He was released from custody and was under police watch.

Meanwhile, Romanian media had reported that Mansouri protested his arrest by the local police and claimed that he was a permanent resident of Turkey, where he owns a residence.

“If extradited to Iran, my life would be in danger,” Mansouri told local media.

Moreover, a complaint against Mansouri was also lodged in Germany by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for his role in human rights violations, including the mass arrest of journalists in 2013.

Gholamreza Mansouri, who was previously the investigator of Branch 9 of the Culture and Media Prosecutor’s Office and the head of the prosecutor’s office, was also involved in the seizure of some newspapers in Iran and the arrest of a group of journalists in 2012.

Reporting by Adelina Radulescu of RFE/RL Romanian Service