Days later, security agents stormed Najafi’s home and took him to an unknown detention center.
An outspoken Iranian reformist MP has accused the Islamic Republic’s security forces of framing the lawyer. MP Mahmoud Sadeghi tweeted on January 25th that Najafi “has proved that his young client was never involved in any drug dealing.” Although he didn’t mention Najafi by name, Sadeghi went on to tweet, “through field investigation at the village residence of a young man who died in custody and at a police station in the city of Arak, an honorable attorney has proved that none [of the villagers] believes the young man was dealing drugs.”
Ali Bagheri, a human rights activist based near Arak, said in an interview that Heydari’s family have been threatened by security forces and told to remain silent about his suspicious death. They were told he was arrested for distributing narcotics and that his case could have “complications” for the family.
“Vahid Heydari was a vendor at Arak’s main bazaar. Protests in Arak flared up on December 31 and Vahid was detained on January 1,” Bagheri said.“The security forces dragged him to the 12th Precinct…on January 5, they informed his family that he had committed suicide and died behind bars.”
Bagheri says he spoke with Heydari’s uncle and cousin, who alleged that when their relative’s body was released to them there appeared to be a 10-centimeter swollen wound on his left temple.
Hours after the interview, Bagheri was also detained by the security forces.
Heydari’s suicide was recorded by CCTV cameras, according to Judiciary officials , but so far, they have refused to release the footage.
Central Province Prosecutor Abbas Ghassemi confirmed that one person had died in detention in Arak, on January 10th, but did not release his name. “There were definite signs of self-harm on this individual,” Abbas Ghassemi told Mizan, the judiciary’s official news agency. “There is also footage of the moment he committed suicide. Therefore, the evidence confirms that his death was caused by suicide.”
In a similar case, authorities maintain that 23-year-old Sina Bagheri, who died in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison earlier in the month, was also a suicide. They say CCTV footage shows him committing suicide in the restroom. Former prisoners say that the restrooms at Evin prison are so crowded that such and act would be impossible, without attracting attention.