CAIRO – A 26-year-old doctor who exposed the torture of jailed protesters in Iran died of poisoning from a delivery salad laced with an overdose of blood pressure medication, prosecutors say. The findings fuelled opposition fears that he was killed because of what he knew.
Investigators are still trying to determine whether his death last month was a suicide or murder, Tehran’s public prosecutor Abbas Dowlatabadi said, according to the state news agency IRNA.
The revelations of torture against prisoners in Iran’s postelection turmoil angered even government supporters and deeply embarrassed the country’s clerical leadership and security forces.
Much of the abuse took place at Kahrizak, a prison on Tehran’s outskirts where hundreds of opposition protesters were taken. Several there died, and the facility became so notorious that Iran’s supreme leader was forced to close it down.
Ramin Pourandarjani, a doctor at Kahrizak, later testified to a parliamentary committee and reportedly told them that a young protester he treated died from severe torture. He said he was also forced by security officials to list the cause of death as meningitis, according to opposition Web sites.
Pourandarjani died on 10 November in mysterious circumstances, with authorities initially saying he was in a car accident, had a heart attack or committed suicide.
Forensic tests showed that the doctor died of “poisoning by drugs” that matched doses of propranolol found in a salad that was delivered to him, Dowlatabadi said Tuesday. “A large number of these pills must be used for a person to pass away from them,” he said.
Propranolol is used to treat high blood pressure, rapid heart rate and tremors, and can be lethal in high doses.
The restaurant delivery man told investigators that he gave the salad directly to Pourandarjani and described how the doctor took it from him at the door of his room, then closed the door behind him, Dowlatabadi said. The delivery man is not under arrest, he said.