Iran fires cyber police chief over blogger's death

DUBAI Sat Dec 1, 2012 9:23pm IST

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DUBAI (Reuters) - The head of Tehran's cyber police unit has been dismissed over the death in custody of an Iranian blogger, police said on Saturday, in a case that has sparked international condemnation and led to Iranian calls for an official investigation.

Sattar Beheshti, a little-known 35-year-old blogger who was critical of the government, was arrested on October 30 after receiving death threats, and died some days later, after complaining he was tortured.

According to a statement posted on the website of Iran's police force on Saturday, the chief of Tehran's cyber police unit was fired for "failures and weaknesses in adequately supervising personnel under his supervision."

Iran's English-language Press TV and the semi-official Mehr news agency named him as Mohammad Hassan Shokrian.

Iran's parliament said last month it had formed a committee to examine the case, and the judiciary said it would deal "quickly and decisively" with those responsible.

Earlier this week, parliamentarian Mehdi Davatgari said the cyber police unit had illegally kept Beheshti in custody without a court order.

Iranian authorities have arrested seven people suspected of involvement in his death, and a judiciary official said a forensic examination had found bruises on five parts of the blogger's body.

Human rights group Amnesty International has said the blogger may have been tortured to death in custody, and has joined with European governments to urge Tehran to investigate.

The cyber police unit, known as FATA, was set up in 2011 following the disputed 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that led to widespread protests by activists who in part used social networking websites to organise rallies.

(Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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