A senior Iranian official referred to the death of former Iranian judge Gholamreza Mansouri in Romania as a “murder” on Saturday, saying Bucharest must take full responsibility for it.
Mansouri, who was accused of corruption in Tehran and of human rights violations by activists, was found dead at the hotel he was staying at in Bucharest on Friday after falling from a height.
“The Romanian government must accept responsibility for Mansouri’s murder and inform Iran of the perpetrators,” Mohsen Rezaei, the Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council and a former chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), tweeted on Saturday.
Rezaei is the first Iranian official to refer to Mansouri’s death as a “murder.”
While police in Bucharest are investigating whether the incident was an accident, a suicide, or a murder, Iran’s Interpol chief Hadi Shirzad claimed on Friday that Romanian authorities have informed Tehran that Mansouri “threw himself out of his hotel window,” ruling his death a suicide.
Ali Bagheri, the secretary of the Iranian judiciary’s human rights council, also told state TV on Friday that Mansouri “probably committed suicide.”
Mansouri’s lawyer said on Saturday that his former client was not a person who would take his own life.
Soon after reports of Mansouri’s death emerged, the editor-in-chief of Mashreg News, a news website close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), hinted at a possible Iranian involvement.
“As of today, Romania is a point of strategic depth [for Iran],” he said in a now-deleted tweet.
Iran uses the term “strategic depth” to refer to its military and intelligence services’ influence beyond Iranian borders.
Mansouri, who fled Iran last year, was accused of taking half a million euros in bribes in Tehran. Iran sought to have him extradited.
On June 13, Iran confirmed Interpol arrested Mansouri in Romania. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said Mansouri could not yet be extradited back to Iran due to coronavirus restrictions.
Mansouri was also accused of having been involved in the arrest and torture of dozens of journalists in Iran, which prompted a number of Iranian journalists and human rights activists to demand his arrest in Europe.
The Iranian activists and journalists, as well as Reporters Without Borders (RSF), opposed Mansouri’s extradition and wanted him to be put on trial in Europe.