Iran probes police officer over death after World Cup loss

Published December 9, 2022, 10:44 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran has arrested a local police chief over the shooting death of a man while he celebrated the Islamic republic’s World Cup loss last month, local media quoted a family lawyer saying.

A member of Iran’s riot police waves a national flag as fans celebrate their football team’s win against Wales during the Qatar 2022 World Cup, in the capital Tehran on November 25, 2022. (AFP)

Mehran Samak, 27, died in the northern city of Bandar Anzali on November 30, after being hit by shotgun pellets, the judiciary’s Mizan Online website said at the time.

A police official told state news agency IRNA on Wednesday Samak was killed “during a gathering”, after Iran’s loss to arch enemy the United States.

The defeat in Qatar eliminated Iran from the tournament and drew a mixed response from pro- and anti-government supporters.

“The deceased Mehran Samak was hit by a shotgun and unfortunately died of his injuries,” said Colonel Mahmoud Rajabi, the legal counsellor of Gilan province’s police.

He told IRNA “a number of suspects have been arrested” in the investigation, but the report did not identify them.

“The case of a number of people, including Colonel Jafar Javanmardi, the former police chief of Bandar Anzali, is being investigated,” Rajabi was quoted as saying.

A lawyer representing Samak’s family wrote on social media that the city’s police chief was one of those arrested, according to Tasnim news agency.

“A week after the death of Mehran Samak and in view of the evidence, Jafar Javanmardi, the commander of the (Bandar) Anzali police… was placed in pre-trial detention,” the lawyer, Majid Ahmadi, was quoted by Tasnim as saying on Wednesday.

Ahmadi alleged Javanmardi has been charged with violating the rules for firearms usage, “resulting in the death of Mehran Samak”.

The local police force told Tasnim it may file suit against Ahmadi over his post.

Foreign-based rights groups said Samak had been shot dead by Iranian security forces after honking his car horn during celebrations that followed Iran’s loss.

IRNA quoted Rajabi, the police legal counsellor, as noting “the importance of the issue,” and said “results will be announced by the judiciary.”

Iran has been gripped by protests since the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini following her arrest for allegedly violating the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.

An Iranian general said last week that more than 300 people have been killed, including dozens of security personnel.

The latest toll from Norway-based non-governmental organisation Iran Human Rights shows at least 458 people had been “killed by security forces in the ongoing nationwide protests”.