Iranian police chief gets 15 months in jail amid rape claim

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An Iran court sentenced a police chief to 15 months in jail, the judiciary said Friday, after a newspaper linked him to the alleged rape of a girl that sparked bloody protests.

“On December 3, the military tribunal sentenced to 15 months in jail the former police commander of Chabahar, Ebrahim Kouchakzai, and stripped him of his public functions,” the judiciary’s news agency Mizan Online said.

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It came three months after the newspaper Farhikhtegan reported on November 9 that Colonel Kouchakzai had in September interrogated a 15-year-old girl in the southeastern port of Chabahar following the arrest of her brother for alleged murder.

According to the report, there was no arrest warrant for the girl, who was alone with Kouchakzai during the interrogation “in his office with no surveillance cameras.”

“When she returned home, the girl said that the police commander had raped her,” Farhikhtegan reported at the time.

Authorities ordered an investigation but the medical examiner said the girl had not been raped, according to the newspaper, adding that the family refuted the findings.

The case sparked bloody clashes in the restive southeastern city of Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province, where Chabahar is located.

On September 30, dozens of people, including members of the security forces, were killed when thousands took to the streets after Friday prayers at the city’s Makki mosque, in what has been dubbed “Bloody Friday.”

This was followed by days of protests and deadly clashes, even as Iran was rocked by a nationwide protest movement over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been arrested for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.

Sistan-Baluchistan is home to the ethnic Baluch minority and had been the site of often deadly violence even before the Amini protests.

Zahedan and Chabahar are among the few cities in Shia-majority Iran which are mainly Sunni.

Mizan Online did not refer to the alleged rape on Friday, but said that Kouchakzai had been “sentenced to 15 months in jail for having sparked an atmosphere of skepticism towards the police.”

He was also given 15 months for having written “fake police statements” and to 15 months in prison for “scrapping (some) orders, and for threats.”

All the sentences are served concurrently in Iran, so he will serve 15 months only.

Mizan Online gave no further details, but said the ruling was “definitive,” adding that Kouchakzai faces “other charges” and is still under investigation.

After the September unrest, authorities sacked two regional security officials, including the police chief in Zahedan.

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