Opposition says mutilation of prisoners continues in Iran
BRUSSELS, March 9, 2000 (AFP) - An Iranian opposition group has shown a videotape here of prisoners in Iranian jails having eyes gouged out and fingers chopped off at a time when a Belgian of Iranian origin claims to have been tortured there. The National Council of Resistance of Iran, which showed the gory 1984 footage Wednesday, said the practice continues in Iran today.
The screening of the video came as a Belgian prosecutor opened an investigation of former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani into the Belgian citizen's complaint of having been detained and tortured in Iran from 1983 to 1989.
"We fully support this initiative," said Majid Taleghani, a member of the foreign affairs committee of the Council, which is composed mainly of the People's Mujahedeen, the main armed Iranian opposition group.
He said the videotape would be turned over to Belgian investigators. "The accusation concerns all of the (Iranian) regime," he said, by way of explanation why Iranian President Mohammed Khatami and the spiritual guide of the Islamic Republic, Ali Khamenei, had reacted so bitterly to the Belgian investigation, threatening to break off bilateral relations.
The video images were shown to the press here "to prove the involvement of Rafsanjani, the number two in the regime, and of other officials, in crimes against humanity," said a Council statement.
Iran's most senior official is the supreme guide, not the president.
Taleghani said the images, filmed by the regime and smuggled out of the country recently by the Mujahedeen, were being shown publicly for the first time outside Iran.
They show the gouging of eyes, and the amputation of five fingers on the left hand of a visibly lucid prisoner, by a machine apparently built expressly for the purpose, in the Teheran's Qasr prison in 1984.
Gouging eyes and cutting off fingers are inhumane punishments routinely inflicted by the Iranian regime and have continued under the Khatami presidency since May 1997, said the Council statement.
Hussein Abedini, another member of the foreign affairs committee, said Iranian clerics had carried out some 120,000 executions since 1978, secretly or publicly, and that 700 people had been executed since the beginning of last year.