Exclusive: Prosecutor Declines to Investigate Rape Allegations against Parliament Member

Posted on: August 27th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- An investigation into the rape of a 28-year-old woman by Iranian Parliament member Salman Khodadai was recently halted by the Prosecutor General who, citing “lack of jurisdiction,” has declined to examine the case further.

HRANA has reported extensively on multiple rape and sexual assault allegations against Khodadadi, a member of Iranian Parliament (aka Majlis) representing Malekan, northwestern Iran, who also chairs the Parliament’s Social Committee.

In her long ordeal to seek justice, the plaintiff, a Malekan resident, filed charges against Khodadadi with the Prosecutor General of Malekan County. The Prosecutor General has now issued the decision that it will not be prosecuting her case.

The young woman has contacted and filed complaints with several government bodies, including but not limited to the Parliament Member (MP) Conduct Supervision Committee, All-Party Womens’ Group, Iranian Parliament Security Office, Revolutionary Guard Intelligence Office of Malekan, Intelligence Office of Malekan, and the Justice Ministry and Prosecutor General of Malekan. Thus far none have replied to her inquiries, nor to her request for an investigation. In fact, not only is Salman Khodadadi still serving as MP and chair of the Iranian Parliament Social Committee, but his tenure as the head of the Tehran Boating Federation was also renewed in August for an additional four-year term.

The plaintiff has repeatedly contacted the Guardian Council (an appointed body which vets candidates for elections and ratifies laws passed by Parliament), who was initially responsive, promising to investigate and even assist in procuring her a lawyer. On subsequent contacts, however, she was rebuffed and told that she would have to find her own lawyer and pursue the case on her own through the Prosecutor’s office.

The reactions of the Guardian Council and Parliament Security Office raise concerns over these bodies’ ability to perform their functions without bias, as Khodadadi thus far remains immune to legal pursuit.

The stonewalling of the parliamentary security office and contradictions of the Guardian Council compelled the alleged victim to file a complaint with the General Prosecutor of Malekan, where she was interrogated for several hours by the Ministry of Intelligence and IRGC Intelligence agents. At the conclusion of her questioning, authorities agreed to launch an investigation on the condition that she refrain from speaking to the media. The Prosecutor agreed at that time to press charges against Khodadadi.

Despite all the promises and engagements secured through her multiple follow-ups, the Prosecutor’s office decided not to move forward, citing lack of jurisdiction.

The text of their decision reads:

“With regards to the accusation of rape, harassment, psychological abuse, threats, and insults which are the subject of the complaint filed by Ms….. daughter of …., the accused is nonetheless a Member of Parliament. Notwithstanding potential veracity of the charges, based on section 307 of the Criminal Procedure Code, an investigation into offenses committed by deputies is the jurisdiction of the Tehran Criminal Court. Consequently, this prosecution office recuses itself from prosecuting this case, in favor of the jurisdictional authority of the Tehran Criminal Court.”

Mehdi Ali Moradi
General and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Malekan

The plaintiff sought the assistance of other parliamentarians, but to no avail. The SMS screen captures below show her correspondence with various MPs. Offering only a glimpse into their communications, the content of the messages indicate the plaintiff’s repeated attempts to plead her case with officials.

The first screenshot shows parts of her conversation with Mahmoud Sadeghi, an outspoken reformist MP, in which he advises her to contact the MP Conduct Supervision Committee.

After HRANA published an audio file of a conversation between Khodadadi and one of his alleged sexual assault victims, state-run news agency Etemad Online followed up in interviews on July 24th with two prominent officials: Parvaneh Salahshoori, head of the All-Party Womens’ MP Group, and Jamali Nobandegani, spokesperson for the PM Conduct Supervision Committee. In the report of these interviews, both denied ever receiving complaints against Khodadadi and added that in presence of any incriminating evidence would file a formal complaint.

The alleged victim proceeded to follow up with Salahshoori herself, providing her with further case documentation. Upon receipt of the documents, Salahshoori promised to follow up with the case and submit a correction to her statements made with Etemad Online. When the plaintiff checked in with Salahshoori five days later, she replied simply that she was “no longer with the All-Party Womens’ Group.”

Excerpts of their exchanges are below.

 

The plaintiff repeatedly contacted Ali Mottahari and Masoud Pezeshkian, who are Parliament deputy speakers that preside over the MPs’ Conduct Supervision Committee per internal Parliament protocol. In their most recent response to her, they indicate that the Committee will not be intervening in the case, and advised her to resolve the issue directly with Salman Khodadadi, her alleged sexual aggressor. This effectively discouraged her from pursuing the matter further.

The plaintiff had also confronted Tehran MP and Etemad Daily managing director Elyas Hazrati, requesting that he reveal the sources of his publication’s aforementioned report in which heavyweight interviewees denied the existence of her claims.

The Guardian Council, which has frequently come under the fire of media and public opinion for allegations of corruption in its vetting of parliamentary candidates, has recently published a documentary in collaboration with Fars News Agency — which has strong ties to the IRGC — to justify their screening process. Entitled “Very Confidential,” the documentary cites factors for disqualifying candidates, including criminal records and charges of rape, and features interviews with Guardian Council members who insist that the Council conducts its candidate background checks with the utmost scrutiny.

Salman Khodadadi has several times run and been elected as an MP, successfully passing the vetting process, despite a record of charges against him that include illicit sexual relations and rape.

Exclusive: Audio Files Reveal New Details in Sexual Assault Allegations Against Iranian Parliament Member

Posted on: July 20th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – HRANA has obtained verified audio excerpts of conversations between Iranian Parliament member Salman Khodadadi and some of the women whom he allegedly sexually abused. The conversations are in the Turkic/Azeri language (the video includes a Persian translation), HRANA has provided an English translation below:

 

First Segment   

Salman Khodadadi: I’ll tell you what’s going to happen at the end of all this. Whoever wishes to ruin me will fail. Even if someone starts to inquire, you’re a widow! They’d probably say it was a *sigheh (temporary marriage). There are a thousand ways [around it].  It cannot be proven [that it was an illicit relationship or rape].

Ultimately, I am asking you to please delete everything that you have on your cell phone, and change your number so nobody can contact you. In exchange, I will help you. You just have to make this matter disappear. Call them, and make sure to update me.

I’m stressed out; I have a reputation [to maintain].  They are going to ruin me. Do you want them to destroy me?

Call them and tell them that you were emotional and are now feeling guilty and that the accusations against me are weighing on your conscience. Tell them what you said wasn’t true, and that I am a good person who helps everyone.

[If you do], then I will come so we can talk and resolve this matter; but please [call them] first.

*Sigheh is a form of temporary marriage, especially recognized by the Shiite division of Islam, where a man could marry a woman on a temporary basis. Some argue that the sigheh can be performed by the couple without the presence of an officiant.

Second Segment

Salman Khodadadi: [Yelling] Hope you’ll end up in a grave with your parents!

What do you think you can do anyway. What have I really done? You whore! What did I do, you whore! You came to my place, you widow, and I f…ed you! You frustrate me every day. What did I do to you, shameless woman!

Let’s assume that I f…ed you, what should I have done? Is there anything to do after this?

You are a widowed woman! Do you realize that you’re hurting your own reputation as well? Get lost; know your place in order for me to help you.  

You dishonorablele woman! You have nothing. You are hungry for a few dollars. I told you I’ll pay you, I will even pay your rent. What did I ever do to you?

We can assume that you came to me and desired me, that you wanted it and let me f… you.

Get lost, you blind bitch! I know everything. Sit down tight [and keep quiet] so that I can help you. And let me tell you, if you open your mouth, I’ll gouge your eyes out!

If you let me, I will help you, I will help you financially so that you won’t have to suffer anymore.

Third Segment

Salman Khodadadi: [In a pleading voice] Call them and tell them that you lied. Don’t ruin me! You will destroy me! That is not a godly thing to do. You won’t get anything out of it either. Tell them you made these [allegations] up; that I have no knowledge of it, that I never touched you. The truth is that you are a widow! What truth are you planning to tell? I beg you, call and tell them you were angry when you said those things.

You have ruined my reputation. Based on what you told them, they will kick me out. Call them and tell them you are sick and on medication. You have scandalized me! Call them right now, otherwise, they are going to issue a case against me and ruin me. Tell them what you said wasn’t true, that you are sick and had become emotional and said those things out of spite.

Don’t tell them that you talked to me. Don’t tell anyone where you were. They will take me in and destroy me.

I prepared what I had promised you but you ruined me. Don’t ever mention my name again.

I asked someone to take action.

What did I ever do to have ruined you? I kept my promise.

Why was it necessary to tell them that you came to my office on Valiasr Street (in Tehran)? These things are not to be told!

I have one request from you: change all your numbers. You don’t know anyone by the name of Haj Salman. Nothing else is to be said.

——

In June, HRANA published a testimonial from a young woman who alleges that Salman Khodadadi sexually assaulted her. 

Salman Khodadadi’s Background:

Salman Khodadadi was born in 1962 and was recruited by the Islamic Republic’s security apparatus in his youth. During the 1980s purge of political dissidents he was working in the East Azerbaijan Intelligence office. He made an unsuccessful run for Parliament in the early 1990s but was appointed as Director of Ardabil’s Intelligence Bureau and later as the IRGC commander in Malekan.

In the sixth Parliament (2000-2004), Mr. Khodadadi was a member of the Parliament’s Health Committee, despite having no background in that field. Toward the end of his third term in Parliament, he was summoned to court on charges of moral corruption and engaging in illicit relationships, after two women pressed charges against him. He was released on bail. Since he had been elected for a fourth term to the Parliament and was sworn in as a Parliament Deputy, his case was closed.

When two women MPs raised objections regarding Mr. Khodadadi’s credentials, his case was sent to the Parliament for further investigation. Although some of the people of Malekan had gathered in front of the Parliament demanding Khodadai’s ousting, the Parliament voted to approve his credentials and allowed him to serve his term. Mr. Khodadadi refused to comment on his case citing ongoing investigation and his reluctance to provide material for enemies and foreign media.

In the parliamentary election that followed, Mr. Khodadadi was barred from running. However, due to his membership in the 1990s in the National Security Committee, he had a close relationship with Hassan Rouhani, the current President of Iran, and other current members of Mr. Rouhani’s cabinet. Mr. Khodadadi supported Mr. Rouhani in the 2013 Presidential election and was being considered for the position of Governor of Bushehr (Iranian southern province). Mr. Rouhani later changed his mind and Mr. Khodadadi was appointed an advisor to Javad Zarif.

In the most recent parliamentary elections, Mr. Khodadadi was once again barred from running for Parliament by the Supervisory Council (operated by the Executive Branch), but the Guardian Council lobbied on his behalf and he was elected one more time.  Mr. Khodadadi had the support of the “Omid List”, a list of candidates aligned with Mr. Rouhani. Once in Parliament, Mr. Khodadadi became the Chair of the Parliament’s Social Committee.

When he first began to serve in the Parliament, Salman Khodadadi was a management studies student. During his many terms in the Parliament, he received a Master’s degree in Political Science and a PhD in International Relations.