Former MP let off the hook despite sexual assault and suspicious death of the complainant
One-and-a-half years after the suspicious death of Zahra Navidpour, one of the victims of rape and sexual assault by a state official, the Iranian regime’s Supreme Court acquitted her assailant.
The final ruling of the supreme court exonerated Salman Khodadadi, former member of the mullahs’ parliament, of the charge of rape. The supreme court upheld the flogging sentence of 99 lashes and two years of ban depriving Khodadadi from serving in public positions on the charge of having an “illegitimate affair.”
The Supreme Court verdict thus concludes the case of rape by a member of parliament and without ordering any investigation into the sudden death of the complainant, Zahra Navidpour.
It is not clear if the commuted punishment would ever be carried out for Khodadadi who previously appealed the ruling because of suffering from diabetes.
According to the clerical regime’s laws, the punishment for rape convicts is death and the news of such executions are openly reported by the state media and press.
Case examined after victim’s death
Following the suit filed by Zahra Navidpour and only after her death, Tehran Province’s Criminal Court convicted Salman Khodadadi of adultery “without use of violence” and sentenced him to 99 lashes in addition to two years of internal exile, depriving him of serving any elected or appointed positions.
Khodadadi appealed the verdict and his case was undertaken by one of the branches of the Tehran Supreme Court.
Dismissing the charge of “rape,” the Supreme Court branch accepted the convict’s appeal and did not uphold the preliminary ruling because Khodadadi suffers from diabetes and injects insulin. The case was turned back to the Criminal Court of Tehran to be re-examined. (The state-run Fararu website – October 15, 2019)
Filing suit against the assailant MP
Zahra Navidpour, 28, was looking for a job after her father’s death, when she was offered a job by Salman Khodadadi, the city’s deputy in the parliament, and lured into his office in Tehran where she was raped.
Ms. Navidpour incidentally learned from another friend that she had been violated, too, and that there were a number of victims of rape who had not complained for fear of their lives.
Holding audio recordings and other incriminating documents at hand, Zahra filed a suit against Khodadadi but due to the latter’s collusions with the court, she faced an unfair trial and a presiding judge who was intent to incriminate her.
In a verbal encounter in the parliament building, Khodadadi threatened to kill Zahra and her family “overnight without anyone knowing.”
After filing suit against Khodadadi, Zahra announced in the social media that she had been harassed with acid attacks and received death threats from Khodadadi’s associates as well as anonymous persons.
She had informed the court of the threats made to her life.
Family pressured to undertake the murder
Finally, Zahra Navidpour was found dead at her mother’s home on January 6, 2019.
Her death was initially announced as suicide, but there were suspicions that she had been killed by agents of the member of parliament accused of raping her.
The coroner’s office was supposed to perform an autopsy on her body to determine the reason for her suspicious death, but security forces snatched her body overnight and secretly buried her in a remote village before autopsy.
In a video clip published on the internet in March 2019, the mother of rape victim Zahra Navidpour revealed that her family were under pressure of security and judiciary officials to undertake murder of her daughter.
She said in the video clip that her son was in jail charged with honor killing of his sister.
Who is Salman Khodadadi?
Salman Khodadadi became a member of the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) after the 1979 Revolution. He was later transferred to the Ministry of Intelligence. He served as a member of the Health Committee and the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee in the sixth and seventh parliaments. In the eighth parliament, he was the deputy chair of the Internal Security Committee.
Khodadadi’s name is associated with sexual abuse and rape. During his second term in the parliament, he was briefly detained, charged with raping two women, but was later released on bail.
He was disqualified by the Guardians Council for the ninth parliament, so he went on to serve as advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
For the tenth parliament, the pro-Rouhani faction gave him support to re-enter the Majlis. Until March 2018, he chaired the parliamentary Social Committee.
Public outrage over Judiciary’s ruling
The Iranian supreme court ruling provoked widespread public outrage. Social media users lambasted the Judiciary for handing down heavy sentences for civil activists and journalists, but letting their own officials off the hook for serious charges such as sexual assault, rape and murder.
No justice for victims of rape
Women who are victims of rape and violence in Iran do not receive any form of support under the mullahs’ misogynistic regime and its laws.
The bill to protect women against violence was stalled for eight years and passed around between the parliament and the Judiciary before being totally overhauled and passed to the Rouhani government on September 17, 2019. However, the government has not yet passed it to the parliament for final adoption.
On the other hand, Iranian women face numerous obstacles to prove that they have been victims of rape. For example, they have to provide witnesses to prove their claims. In the case of Zahra Navidpour, the assailant used his influence and turned the table against the victim.
Zahra Navidpour is not the first woman in Iran to become victim of violence and sexual abuse by regime officials without receiving any form of support and eventually losing her life. Her case is reminder of the tragic fate of Reyhaneh Jabbari and Farinaz Khosravani.
Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, was executed at dawn on October 25, 2014 in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran. She had already spent 7 years in prison.
Jabbari, a decorator, was 19-years old when charged with murdering Morteza Sarbandi, a 47-year old married doctor who had three children and was a former employee of the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS). Jabbari defended herself against the MOIS employee’s attempt to rape her.
On May 4, 2015, a young woman by the name of Farinaz Khosravani threw herself off the fourth floor of the Tara Hotel in Mahabad, Iranian Kurdistan, to escape rape by an agent of the Intelligence Department, Morteza Hashemivand.
The agent walked into the room where Farinaz was working and locked the door. Farinaz who did not have any means to defend herself, threw herself off the window. Eventually, the Intelligence Department agent and the hotel owner who was his accomplice escaped any punishment and the case was closed.